Solar for renters: Investigating investor perspectives of barriers and policies

New research from a collaboration with ANU policy and economics experts has just been published in Energy Policy – available free of charge here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421523000022

The policy implications of our findings are summarised below.

Policy interventions that seek to redress the near exclusion of rental properties from solar PV face a delicate balance in both perceptions and impacts: creating benefits for tenants, who may be worried about having to pay higher rents, without overly benefiting property investors, who are relatively wealthy.

The core policy implication of our study is that policies that focus primarily on addressing high upfront costs (as have historically been used) are likely to be limited in their reach. The BWS survey indicated that respondent property investors are on average concerned that they would be unable to benefit from installing solar PV by charging higher rents.

Correcting information asymmetries by focusing policies on mechanisms to make the value of solar more visible to all parties in the market could be a means to release policymakers from the loaded challenge of balancing the incentives offered to property investors and the benefits flowing to tenants.

One way through which to increase visibility of the value of solar PV is through active monitoring and disclosure of the performance of solar PV systems to the rental market (providing the market with assurance that a system is operating well). This is most effective when the value is presented in tangible financial (dollar) terms, rather than more abstract ratings such as energy efficiency stars.

Woodford Folk Festival 2022-23

I had a wonderful time at the Woodford Folk Festival over the summer. I can now confirm that it’s no less fun with a toddler than childless! So much excitement and good vibes all around.

I gave an hour long presentation on “Watt’s in store for the energy system?” in the main festival, with special guest Prof Ian Lowe, as well as spending an hour doing some readings of Amy’s Balancing Act in the children’s festival. Both were very fun and engaging with the switched on crowds.

My slides for the adult presentation are below, together with a few pics – more on instagram

The clean energy revolution isn’t a techno-fix – it needs to be guided by communities’ local needs

New piece in The Conversation

Context is everything

Under the previous federal government, Australia’s approach to emissions reduction was narrow and technology-centred.

The new Labor government – elected on the promise of climate action – has the opportunity to move to a community-based approach. This should ensure any new infrastructure integrates with people’s lives, values, and aspirations.

Such an approach requires proponents and funding bodies (both government and private) to genuinely listen to communities’ needs – right from the early design stage.

If local circumstances are not considered, a trial can be plagued with problems.

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Neighbourhood batteries in Australia: Anticipating questions of value conflict and (in)justice

We have a new paper published today in Energy Research & Social Science.

Highlights

  • Energy professionals and citizens hold diverse values on algorithm design, governance and the energy transition generally.
  • Differences in how values are interpreted and which values are emphasised suggest future points of conflict (and injustice).
  • Systemic issues raised both down and upstream of the technology suggest distributed responsability ill suited to centralised governance.
  • Our focus on responsibility and justice reorients the problem to re-design rather than accommodation.

Pre-print is freely available below and the published paper is available at https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ely67tZ6ZxQoB

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Local network pricing and community storage a powerful combo: ANU

If networks could charge for localised use of their service, all customers in areas with high PV and community-scale batteries would pay lower bills … with no cost to the network, research shows.

Is rooftop solar a problem in the suburbs? Apparently so, with rising PV exports prompting falls in feed-in tariffs, plans for export charges in Adelaide and deployment of community-scale batteries in many cities.

As the grid transitions away from coal, it seems as though rooftop solar is part of the solution and part of the problem at the same time. Is there a simple solution that could see all that excess solar energy shared equitably and leave customers better off?

Yes, there is. Or there could be, if networks were allowed more flexibility in how they charge for their services.

Full story in ecogeneration

Feature on ABC TV Catalyst program – a childhood dream

ABC TV’s Catalyst program was one of my favorite TV shows growing up, so it was a bit of a dream to get to be a part of the recent episode about the transformation of the electricity system.

The episode did a fantastic job, covering a huge range of the interesting developments underway across the system and the country, explaining the crucial facts and trends, and presenting everything in interesting, engaging and understandable ways.

So, I’d highly recommend giving watching here https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/the-grid-powering-the-future/13491654

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One Step Off The Grid – SuRF project announcement

A new project led by the Australian National University will assess the feasibility of transitioning regional New South Wales communities from grids exposed to bushfires and other natural disasters to a resilient network of islandable renewables and battery-based microgrids.

The Southcoast Microgrid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project was last week named as one of 20 projects around Australia to be awarded a share of $25.6 million in funding via round two of the federal government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund.

The project is being led the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU in partnership with the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA), network company Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben.

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