WA power plants are being shut off due to huge solar energy output
Monday, 21 May 2018

In a national first, Western Australia’s south-west electricity grid has been forced to invoke ‘high risk sate’ operating procedures on coal and gas fired power stations to prevent the grid from becoming overloaded and threaten blackouts.

WA power plants are being shut off due to huge solar energy output

These high risk procedures were intended to only be put in effect for major emergencies like bushfires or critical power plant failures, but are now being exercised due to the huge amount of power being generated from local rooftop solar.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) explains the WA power grid is strictly monitored and regulated to ensure the perfect amount of electricity is supplied at a safe level to homes and businesses every minute of the day.

As the AEMO are able to address the amount of energy output coming from power plants, they have no control over the energy output generated from solar panels. During peak times during the day where solar energy is being generated at its highest rate, the market operator is being flooded with an excessive amount of energy and struggle to contain it.

The Muja power station in the south-west town of Collie is struggling to control the sudden influx of solar generated energy and risks causing blackouts across WA. Source: thewest.com.au.  

The high energy output is at its most uncontrollable during mild, sunny days when energy demand it low, but solar generation remains high.

With around 200,000 residential solar installations across the south-west, almost 1000MW of solar power is generated through an interconnected system, making the south-west’s solar network the largest single source of energy on the grid.

Experts reveal not only will the entire WA state risk more regular blackouts, but may be hit with higher electricity bills due to less people relying on fossil-fuel powered energy.

AEMO’s WA executive general manager, Cameron Parrotte said due to WA’s high solar installation rate, he feels switching off power plant energy output will now be a regular task instead of originally intended exceptional circumstances.  

Mr Parrotte said as solar energy installations are at a current rate of 180MW per year, the situation is likely to become more difficult to manage unless changes were imposed.

He explained a way to combat the overloading energy generation, battery storage technology should be utilised to contain all excess generated solar energy to be used for times where more electricity is needed and ensure the grid is maintained at a safe level.

What can you do?

With more solar energy systems being installed than ever before, you can eliminate the risk of further growing energy costs and ensure your home doesn’t risk a blackout with a quality solar system and battery technology.

The Energy division at AICA has been supplying Western Australian homes and business with reliable and efficient solar energy for over a decade now and are determined to help break the control retail energy providers have on us all.

With our expert team of electrical engineers, AICA can determine the perfect solar and battery storage system to suit your energy needs.

To discover how solar energy can cut your bills and create a sustainable future for us all, call the AICA team on 1800 242 228.

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