The new energy mix

Advisian

By Lauren Davis
Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Consulting firm Advisian has launched a series of podcasts on the energy market, ranging from traditional energy through to the grid, carbon capture and renewable energy solutions.

In the third podcast in the series, Matt Robinson, Advisian’s director of energy and water for Asia Pacific, predicts what the energy mix in Australia will look like in five years — with interesting results.

“We’re in the midst of a transition here; from a centralised, fossil-intensive energy system to one that’s highly automated, highly distributed and with much, much greater integration of renewable energy and thermal and storage technologies,” Robinson. “I doubt that we’re going to remove all of our fossil fuels from the energy mix in the foreseeable future, but we are going to be able to integrate much higher levels of low-emissions energy sources. And that’s possible with storage technologies and intelligent systems that enable us to control and manage energy in a distributed world.”

The move to a distributed model is “a key facet” of this transition, according to Robinson, with rooftop PV serving as an example of a renewable energy technology that has found itself thriving in this new environment.

“It’s a technology that lends itself to powering a household or business at their premises, you don’t need to be technically minded to operate it, there’s virtually no maintenance, and modern systems even integrate artificial intelligence to learn how you use the system and optimise it to your usage patterns,” he said.

“When the technology gets to the point of PV, where it’s compelling at the mum-and-dad price point, you’ve really changed something.”

According to Robinson, the most successful energy technologies in this new environment are those that are reducing the barriers to entry to the energy sector. With this in mind, he said, “Battery storage at the consumer level will very likely be the next driver of change.”

“Get that technology to become compelling, somewhere near $500 per kilowatt, and you shift everything again, because now the barrier has lowered even more for consumers to self-generate outside of daylight hours,” he continued.

Robinson also warned that utilities should expect to be affected by these changes to the energy mix, given that they no longer have a monopoly on the market.

“New energy technologies are bringing [the] barriers to entry down, to the point where individual consumers can generate almost all their energy needs on their roof, store it in a box in the garage, and do that for the same price of a family’s overseas holiday,” he said.

“Given that new reality, and understanding that we’re only at the beginning of the maturity and innovation kerb for these technologies, if … you think this isn’t going to affect you, I’d suggest you need to have a think again.”

The podcast series can be found at www.advisian.com/newenergyfuture.

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