ACT News

CSIRO says installing solar panels on roofs of businesses could take pressure off the electricity grid during heatwaves

Installing more solar panels on the roofs of businesses would help Australia's energy grid cope with increased demand during heatwaves, experts say.

According to the CSIRO, 75 per cent of Australia's households have airconditioners and many will be using them on Tuesday.

Glenn Platt, theme leader for local energy systems at the science agency, said Australia was facing a growing problem with reaching peak demand for electricity on very hot days.

On average most Australians were using less electricity, but on really hot days consumers were using more and more, he said.

''The gaps between the really big consuming days and the rest of the time is growing and that's a big problem for how we design and run our electricity system,'' he said.

Dr Platt said blackouts during peak times usually occurred when the demand on energy infrastructure - the poles and wires that connected homes and businesses to the grid - exceeded supply.

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Building more infrastructure would help meet demand during heatwaves, but it was only needed a few days a year and contributed to the rising cost of power. Making electricity locally through rooftop solar panels was one possible solution to the problem, Dr Platt said, and another was utilising technology that helped consumers waste less electricity.

The electrical engineer said installing solar panels on commercial buildings in the ACT could be particularly beneficial to the electricity network because peak production time on solar panels, about midday, lined up well with peak usage times for those buildings.

Dr Platt said it was very rare for an Australian city to get blacked out, with supply shortages usually occurring in localised areas, suburbs or streets.

A spokeswoman for ActewAGL said on Monday it was not expecting any power shortages or grid problems during this week's heatwave.

More than 8500 Canberra businesses and homes were left without power on one day during a heatwave in January last year, with blackouts in the suburbs of Watson, Weston, Hackett, Flynn, Kingston, Causeway, Kambah and Fraser.

ActewAGL restored power to the affected suburbs and blamed most of the outages on high winds.