The entirety of South Australia witnessed a statewide blackout last week. While neighbourhood power outages are something we are all used to, a loss of electricity on this scale is practically unheard of.
A lot of people were left wondering how an advanced nation like Australia – a country who has spent (even overspent) on upgrading and maintaining its grid connection - did not have substantial safety measures in place to prevent millions from losing access to power.
While it might be easy to play off the blackout as a ‘first world problem', something we can laugh about in the future, the consequences were real.
So, why does this matter to you?
The Risk Of Centralised Energy
Well, unless you are part of the very few who have been early adopters of battery storage, you most likely rely on the grid.
And, while there were a number of events that eventually led to the blackout, the number one reason it occurred was because ‘the grid’ is inherently centralised.
This means that the entire state relies on key infrastructure to generate power. It also means that when this infrastructure fails, everyone is affected and SA is not alone.
All statewide grids are interconnected and therefore can and most likely will experience widescale outages in the future.
It was only recently that 200,000 went without power in NSW, not to mention the countless ‘neighbourhood blackouts’ that occur on a regular basis.
Beyond that, the cost of maintaining long-distance connections is huge and has cost taxpayers millions.
Meaning that for all the tax money, power bills and, connection costs, relying on the grid puts you at risk of blackouts and interruptions.
The Lucky 1% Who Kept the Power On
While 99% of South Australians were subject to the blackout there were a lucky few.
The CEO of Redflow, who had installed 10kWh of battery storage, was able to power his home throughout the majority of the blackout.
‘I landed (in Brisbane) to the news of a statewide blackout… except for my house, where the teenagers are continuing to charge their smartphones and play computer games perfectly happily.’
Going on to say, ‘It took them an hour to figure out the power had failed – they had to read about it on social media – they hadn’t noticed!”
From our own experience, we have heard similar stories about battery owners not realising they weren't connected to the grid until their neighbours questioned why they weren’t affected by the blackout.
But beyond the experience of a few, being able to lean on independent sources of power has become extremely attractive to hundreds of people.
A 228% surge in home battery inquiries occurred right after the blackout.
Microgrids, Smart Homes and the Future of Power
Millions experienced first hand the issues of relying on a single source of power.
However, there is an alternative to relying on a single system. New York, for example, has pioneered microgrid development.
A system of smaller independent networks that can communicate with the larger grid, but are not directly reliant on it to function.
Microgrids also give way to being able to trade and export power in a more controllable way, as power would be diverted within a more focused area.
Given that, energy marketplaces have begun to emerge from recent government deregulation, microgrids, and decentralised energy communities would give homeowners much greater control over their energy use.
We recently wrote an article talking about a how Reposit Power, and its growing network of energy partners, are changing how battery owners sell electricity.
By adding sophisticated software to your battery unit through smart software, you can repay your battery within half the time.
Then you can go on to sell power at a premium when energy is scarce, for example during blackouts.
This means that you won’t be limited to a flat rate of 6-11c, but can sell power to your neighbours during times of high demand, achieving prices of up to $1.00/kWh.
At the end of the day, it's up to you whether experiencing blackouts and paying excessive bills is worth the expense. We think battery storage is a great solution for those wishing to gain greater independence.
This has never been truer with the advent of smart energy marketplaces allowing you to finally see an ROI on battery storage.
In the long term, maybe we will see a shift towards microgrids and decentralised power. For now, protecting yourself is the best option.
So what do you think?
Do you think battery storage, microgrids, and energy marketplaces would have helped those without power?
Let Us Know.