Feed-in tariffs could be cut back due to high take-up of solar power

Experts warn the grid could be over-supplied during low demand periods

Governments should change the way feed-in tariffs are paid to homeowners or the high take-up of solar power might force them to be drastically cut back, one of Australia’s top energy experts says.

On Tuesday the Clean Energy Regulator released new data which showed a record 3.5m solar panels were installed on Australia rooftops last year.

The record 1,057 megawatts of capacity in small-scale systems installed across the country smashed the previous record set in 2012, and had the capacity to produce the equivalent output of a medium-sized coal-fired power station.

It prompted a warning that the increase in supply to the grid could lead governments to cut feed-in tariffs because the power is “essentially worthless”.

Tony Wood, the director of the Grattan Institute’s energy program, said high solar take-up could have the unintended consequence of over-supplying the grid during low demand periods.

It would mean governments and retailers were subsidising solar energy that had no real value.

“If it becomes that inefficient, it’s not beyond reckoning that governments would think, ‘well, hang on, why are we doing this,’” he said.

“Obviously in the short term anyone benefiting from those subsidies doesn’t like it when it’s reduced or removed.”

Avots: The Guardian

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