Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1249 ..
the largest in the world and is supporting innovation in renewable energy businesses in the ACT, some of which are directly involved in the virtual power plant trial, including our own electricity distributor Evoenergy and local Canberra tech company Reposit Power.
More people are able to participate in the trial. I would like to use this opportunity to call on all ACT energy consumers, especially those with solar panels, to consider installing a battery system to participate in the trial and further reduce their energy costs, supported by the government’s incentives. I realise that the up-front cost of these systems is significant for many households. While the cost of solar and batteries is falling rapidly, it does require an up-front capital investment. While this makes financial sense in the long run, there are many energy consumers who cannot yet afford to participate, and that is why I am so supportive of this motion today.
We should not be afraid of considering good ideas from other jurisdictions, especially when they build on our world-leading approach, and the expansion of our virtual power plant trial is no exception. Prior to the change of government in South Australia, the Labor government under Jay Weatherill announced a plan to roll out a network of at least 50,000 home solar and battery storage systems across South Australia. Under the plan, battery storage would have been installed in 25,000 Housing Trust, or public housing, homes, and in another 25,000 low income homes, funded by private investors.
The scheme proposed a trial of 1,100 Housing Trust properties, installing a five-kilowatt solar panel system and 13.5-kilowatt Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries. This policy not only would have assisted in reaching their environmental targets but also would have provided benefits for consumers. As the Chief Minister mentioned, Frontier Economics projected that the South Australian virtual plant could reduce energy bills of participating public housing tenants by 30 per cent. The energy generated would provide power to the household, and any excess energy generated would be fed back into the grid. The energy can be directed to areas where it is required, or where the network is weak, and service the whole grid. This policy supports households who are in the most vulnerable stage during the transition to the new energy market and builds on the opportunities of government infrastructure for solar investment.
In the ACT the collective roof space of government assets—our schools, our community centres and public housing—is very significant. Many of these assets are already equipped with rooftop solar panels to help reduce their energy costs. Our government is very proud of the fact that almost all of our ACT public schools have a solar system installed on their roof—but even these have a significant amount of room for more PV. Analyses of Canberra rooftops by the University of New South Wales have already discovered enormous untapped potential for solar power installations across a range of buildings in Canberra. Just last week the APVI solar potential tool, SunSPoT, was launched—an online tool for estimating the potential for electricity generation from PV on building roofs in Australian cities, including Canberra.