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South Australia VRE: A Real Time Crystal Ball

SageBrush

REJECT Fascism
May 7, 2015
12,225
15,131
New Mexico
I find the SA experience fascinating because they are further along the path of VRE than any other large community in the world.

Context
1.6E6 population
660E3 households
Minimal hydro assets
Excellent wind and PV resources
NG is ~ 100% of fossil generation
Interconnected with Victoria, that is hobbled by Alcoa Alu smelter
1 AUD = 0.77 USD (All costs in AUD)

Retail grid volumetric pricing is ~ 45 cents/kWh
Fit is ~ 10 cents a kWh
Rooftop PV is ~ $1/watt

Current VRE 60% of total generation
1/3 households have rooftop PV, which accounts for 11% of total generation
Rooftop PV being added at ~ 50k households per year, or ~ 8% of households each year


The emerging story
SA was the poster boy for the world's VRE skeptics and dummies since the high rates were attributed to the VRE. Grid instability added fuel to the fire. The actual story is (obviously) complicated. Distribution is expensive, and the NG power industry abused their monopoly position for years to gouge during the transition phase of VRE lagging closing coal plants.

Nowadays battery storage has reached a price point that provides a backstop to retail pricing. This pdf is a summary document of retail pricing for residential storage. 13 kW battery costs ~ $10k before a $3k tax credit is considered. SA also has low interest financing schemes although I do not know details. An 8 kW PV + 13 kWh Tesla battery costs 15k AUD. I presume the battery lasts 10 - 15 years. If I use 12 years as an estimate then the monthly cost is $70 AUD excluding financing. EV fueling could be added at low marginal cost. That is really quite amazing, and suggests that SA is well on its way to reliable, clean, moderately priced retail energy.
 
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