Using solar to power hot water systems and support South Australia’s energy grid

A Government-backed project aimed at reducing energy use for hot water systems at peak times to help manage grid stability and lower costs, will help South Australians to keep the lights on for less.

Solahart, a subsidiary of Rheem Australia, is conducting a trial on approximately 2,400 residential hot water systems in South Australia.

Hot water systems are significant users of energy at peak times and under the trial hot water systems will draw on the abundant solar energy available outside of peak demand to heat water.

As part of the project, a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) will be established to aggregate the electrical load of hot water heaters, curb electricity usage at peak times or provide network services to the grid. This will enable both customers with and without solar panels to participate.

Hot water systems will utilise off-peak power, reducing reliance on the energy system at peak times. The trial will investigate how this can help to bring down costs, stabilise the grid at the evening peak and make use of excess solar energy during the day.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the project will help South Australia to manage the strong uptake of rooftop solar and ensure the benefits of renewable energy are utilised.

“Australia is experiencing a solar installation boom which is driving the creation of record new renewable capacity,” Minister Taylor said.

“This project will help South Australia to get the most out of this boom and maximise the use of renewables in the grid, reducing pressure on the electricity system.

“Already, one in four Australian homes have solar – the highest uptake of household solar in the world. This is helping to reduce household energy bills and emissions.

“As more Australians turn to solar to power their homes, it is important that we manage this.

“Solar power can only be used when the sun is shining, which is why we need to find more ways to use it when it’s available to stop it going to waste.”

The Morrison Government is investing $1.98 million in the $9.9 million project through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with the South Australian Government matching the Commonwealth’s funding.

The project will create a number of additional jobs at Rheem Australia, with the trial also indirectly supporting local jobs in installation.

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