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Solar Energy

26 May 2021

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:03): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Energy and Mining, questions about the capacity of the grid to absorb the electricity generated by rooftop solar.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: In March, the minister announced the planning for the fifth grid-scale battery in the state. There has been much speculation that at certain times rooftop solar is generating too much electricity, causing instability in the grid with the need to turn off rooftop solar input at such times. In addition, a report in The Advertiser yesterday indicated:

A plan to make it compulsory for all new airconditioners, pool pumps and electric hot-water systems capable of being turned off remotely was endorsed by Energy and Mining Minister…a year ago.

I note that in Queensland the Premier and relevant minister, also in March, announced that their battery planning:

…will mean that the excess renewable energy generated by Queenslanders will be stored for sustainable use…this technology means we can 'bank' the excess renewable energy generated allowing a continued growth in roof-top solar on the way to achieving Queensland's renewable energy target.

My questions for the Treasurer are:

1. Has the Department for Energy and Mining developed plans to store and better manage electricity from rooftop solar in strategically placed grid-size batteries to optimise electricity management at peak-use times and manage grid stability at other times?

2. Is there concern about loss of confidence in people installing rooftop solar with speculation that this capacity may be turned off at times?

3. Will further use of grid-size batteries with possibly a small levy on existing and future rooftop solar owners allow more equity for those who have not installed rooftop solar?

4. Will a focus on grid-size batteries pre-empt the investment by individual households in small-scale batteries, again fuelling equity and grid management concerns?

5. Can the government guarantee that South Australia's battery strategy is such that strategic placement of suburban-size batteries will absorb the present and growing rooftop solar generation so that the surplus is delivered back into the grid and the turning off of rooftop solar is avoided?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:06): I am happy to refer the honourable member's questions to the minister and bring back a reply.