Energy minister Josh Frydenberg has again deflected questions and implied criticism about his failure to install solar panels on the rooftop of his Melbourne home, arguing that well known conservative senator Cory Bernardi has them, and doesn’t believe in climate change action.
“I notice that Cory Bernardi put solar panels on his roof and he never signed up to Paris (the international climate deal)”, Frydenberg said when asked about his lack of solar after a speech at the National Energy Efficiency Congress in Melbourne..
We’re not sure exactly sure what he meant by the reference, other than to point out that installing solar likely has little to do with environmental issues for most people, and is usually an economic issue.
“There is a cost equation there,” Frydenberg said …. “it does pay itself back and it takes a few years to do that.
“I would like to have solar panels on my roof, but for me it has just been a question of making that decision at the right time,” he said later, before going on to talk about his desire to have more smart meters in households.
Frydenberg said there was little doubt that more solar would be installed, and more battery storage too.
Most energy experts predict that the numbers of households with solar will triple and then quadruple, and around half of all demand will be sourced by “distributed energy” – consumers generating and storing their own power.
So far, only prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has gone down this path, presumably generating at least half of the energy needs of his Point Piper home with a 14kW and a 14kWh battery storage array, organised by his son, Alex.
“We got some new ones recently and a battery and that’s certainly meant that for much of the day, even with the big power demand we have there (increased by his heightened security protection), we’re actually not drawing any electricity from the grid,” Turnbull said in a radio interview in September.
Bernardi has put 12kW of rooftop solar on his home in South Australia and we understand he is monitoring his usage and solar output before deciding whether to add battery storage – perhaps to help avoid the blackouts he confidently predicts will be the result of people… installing more solar.
Chief scientist Alan Finkel is more sanguine, noting that the rapid uptake of storage that Frydenberg identified was likely to create more than enough capacity to meet security and reliability needs of even a 50 per cent share of renewables.
Which then begs a question about the need for a National Energy Guarantee and how it might be framed.
Perhaps it might be framed in a way that the reliability obligation put on retailers might actually be zero, in line with the needs of the market operator, rather than some arbitrary estimate of how much storage should be pared with each megawatt of renewable energy capacity.
It’s probably more likely that Frydenberg will end up putting solar panels on the roof.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.