Solar power too much

Simon De Bomford with one of the solar electricity systems he has installed around the region.
Simon De Bomford with one of the solar electricity systems he has installed around the region. Scottie Simmonds BUNELE

SOLAR panels sitting on the roofs of houses in the Bundaberg region and quietly feeding electricity back into the grid might seem like a good idea, but it is causing some concern for electrical suppliers.

Neil Lowry, Ergon Energy's executive general manager of asset management, said one of the main problems was that the system was not deigned to accept electricity from its customers.

The electricity grid is much like a water pipe that delivers water to a house, but is not designed to take it away.

Mr Lowry said Ergon had teams in place to deal with the boom in solar electricity, and was watching the situation closely.

One of the problems was that putting the energy back into the grid required a higher voltage than transformers were designed to handle easily.

"If we get clusters of too many people putting electricity into one transformer the transformer is deigned to shut off so that it is not damaged," he said.

"This causes an interruption in supply to everybody drawing power through that transformer."

Mr Lowry said solar electricity systems were very popular, with Ergon receiving about 2000 applications a month across regional Queensland from people wanting to connect to the grid and possibly earn money from it.

However, Ergon would have to manage the situation so there were not too many people connecting up and overwhelming the grid.

Sunvest Energy operator Simon De Bomford confirmed there was a "very good demand" for solar electricity systems.

"People will spend money to save money," he said.

Mr De Bomford said with householders being paid 44 cents for each kilowatt hour they put into the system, solar could be a good investment.

"At the moment you could put $10,000 in the bank and get 6% for it, or you could invest it in a solar system and get a return of $1500 a year."

Topics:  ergon energy solar power

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