ReWired podcast – The energy revolution happening in our homes

Rooftop solar panels, home batteries, electric vehicles and smart appliances. The future of energy has arrived, and the transformation is taking place in our homes.

By: ARENA

Australia is at the forefront of the shift to small, domestic scale energy assets.

The growing array of ‘distributed energy resources’ is changing the way we produce and consume energy, and putting more power in the hands of consumers than ever before.

Listen to the first episode of ReWired podcast Season 3 below


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Led by more than 2.2 million Australian households that have installed rooftop solar panels, what’s happening ‘behind the meter’ is starting to have wide-reaching impacts.

Introducing Season 3 of the ReWired podcast

Season three of the ReWired podcast launches with a deep dive into the world of distributed energy. We begin with the story behind a smart, highly efficient home in Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs that is almost entirely powered by solar generated on site.

We speak with Audrey Zibelman, the head of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). She outlines some of the challenges keeping the lights on as more of our power is produced from a variety of renewable sources.

We hear from ARENA CEO Darren Miller about how the agency is helping to prepare for the future of energy, and manage the transition to date.

And we will give you a sneak preview of some of the technologies that we believe will power our lives into the future.

A glimpse of the future

Take a moment to visualise what your home of the future might look like. Rooftop solar panels capturing energy from the sun to produce electricity. Smart appliances connected to an energy management system. Any excess electricity produced stored in a home or electric vehicle battery for later, when the sun might not be shining.

Combined with energy efficient designs, these cutting-edge technologies can maximise the value of power produced on your roof. If managed well, they can even make the grid stronger for everybody.

Our first guest, Howard Elston, has turned his smart home vision into a reality. In the place of a large old house in Ringwood East, he is building three solar powered homes packed with cutting edge technology.

They are designed to be highly energy efficient, capturing warmth from the sun during winter and keeping it out to stay cool during summer. Everything from the household appliances to his car are powered by the rooftop solar panels, with any excess energy produced stored in batteries.

It all adds up to a comfortable home that is cheap to run. That’s great for him, but the growing popularity of small, behind-the-meter energy assets is beginning to cause issues for the grid.

Too much of a good thing?

Australia’s energy grids were designed to send electricity in one direction. For decades power has flowed from large power stations in regional areas to our towns and cities, and the job of balancing supply and demand has been relatively straightforward.

Aside from occasional spikes in demand on the hottest summer days, the energy output from the power stations was predictable.

But that is changing as more electricity is generated behind-the-meter. The growth of solar has created two directional energy flows, as households send the excess power produced by their rooftop systems back into the grid.

For electricity networks and AEMO, this makes it harder to maintain the precise 50 hertz frequency that the grid needs to be stable and reliable.

Not only is demand less predictable, but authorities have less visibility over how households are consuming energy. That means they are less able to forecast demand for energy in the future.

And as AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman tells us in this episode, there is a new problem to worry about – low demand. She describes a vision for ‘responsive demand’, where incentives could be provided to run the washing machine or dishwasher during the day when solar production is high, but energy consumption is typically low.

Helping more people to benefit from solar

Throughout this season of the ReWired podcast, we will feature some of the ARENA funded projects that we think will have a big impact.

In episode 1, we speak to Jack Taylor from Allume. The Melbourne startup has developed the SolShare to unlock a massive new market for rooftop solar – apartments and multi-metered buildings. Their system allows tenants in apartment buildings, offices and retail centres to share equally in energy produced by a central solar array.

You will also hear from Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel and Anna Skarbek, the CEO of Climateworks.

We hope you enjoy these stories and learn something new.

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