Jenifer (Zarknorph) said:
In Western Australia, rooftop solar power has been a runaway success - but it now threatens to jeopardise the stability of the grid itself.
An interesting discussion but picking up on one of the least important parts of it.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which runs WA's wholesale electricity market (WEM), said the islanded nature of the grid in WA made it particularly exposed to the technical challenges posed by solar.
AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said these challenges tended to be most acute when high levels of solar output coincided with low levels of demand — typically on mild, sunny days in spring or autumn when people were not using air conditioners.
On those days, excess solar power from households and businesses spilled uncontrolled on to the system, pushing the amount of power needed from the grid to increasingly low levels.
Ms Zibelman said WA's isolation amplified this trend because the relative concentration of its solar resources meant fluctuations in supply caused by the weather had an outsized effect.
The only way to manage the solar was to scale back or switch off the coal- and gas-fired power stations that were supposed to be the bedrock of the electricity system.
The problem was coal-fired plants were not designed to be quickly ramped up or down in such a way, meaning they were ill-equipped to respond to sudden fluctuations in solar production.
Very easy problem to solve - watch the weather forecast and ramp the coal-fired production down first, followed by the gas-fuelled.