By JR on Sunday, October 02, 2011
This sop to the Greenies seems quite mad. The capital cost per unit of electricity produced has to be much greater than the cost of reticulated power -- particularly where the transmission lines are already in place
What is needed of course is a big new coal-fired power station on one of the big coalfields that surround Sydney -- but the Greenies would put up such a storm about that that it would take a brave government to do it. So they flail about with expensive follies instead
SUBURBAN homes will be fitted with government-funded mini power generators as part of a series of multimillion dollar trials to reign-in electricity prices and reduce demand.
Up to 30,000 homes in Sydney and Newcastle will participate in one of seven trials to take place in NSW. The Federal Government is providing $100 million towards the cost of them. The trials, to be undertaken by Ausgrid, will look at whether household bills can be lowered while also making the grid more efficient. About 25 households have agreed to have a fuel cell fitted to their home as part of a two-year trial to begin this month.
The cell, in a box the size of a dishwasher, will convert gas to electricity which will be fed back into the grid as part of the first phase of the trial.
Heat produced during the conversion process will be used to provide free hot water to participating families. The second phase will involve the cell powering the family home to determine if it can reduce electricity usage. The cells cost about $50,000 each but Ausgrid believes they would become more affordable in commercial production.
Demand for electricity during peak hours is at a critical level and energy companies are seeking ways to reduce the load on the network.
Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors said peak demand was rising two per cent a year across the network. He said a fuel cell could power two homes.
"We're testing whether this type of technology can make the power supply more reliable, reduce peaks in electricity demand and lower household electricity bills," Mr Myors said.
The trial is one of several taking place in coming months. Smart meters will be installed in about 15,000 homes in the coming weeks, allowing homeowners to remotely turn off appliances and monitor their electricity use in real-time on the web.