Reports and Working Papers
Reality check: Why CCS has no role in Australia’s energy system
A Report by Bruce Mountain, Director, VEPC • December 2020
review of the evidence: Costs of carbon capture and storage applied to electricity generation in Australia. Report prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation by Associate Professor Bruce Mountain, VEPC Director.
Download the report (6.4mbs) by clicking on the image (left).
Rooftop photovoltaics and electricity distributors: who wins and who loses?
A Working Paper by Bruce Mountain, Director, VEPC, Steven Percy, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC, and Kelly Burns, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC • June 2020
We analyse 48,677 residential electricity bills of which 7,212 have installed rooftop photovoltaics (PV) to determine the impact of rooftop PV on network charges and on wholesale market prices. We find rooftop PV pushes down prices in wholesale markets far more than it raises prices for the provision of network services. This was somewhat unexpected and might be explained by Victoria’s extraordinarily high wholesale market prices and also by the fact that despite the high penetration of rooftop solar, the amount of grid-supplied electricity that is displaced by rooftop supply is not large.
Download the working paper (239kbs) by clicking on the image (left).
Loyalty taxes in retail electricity markets: not as they seem?
A Working Paper by Bruce Mountain, Director, VEPC, and Kelly Burns, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC • May 2020
A common view in retail electricity markets is that retailers discriminate based on consumers’ loyalty: loyal consumers pay more. The premium is colloquially known as a “loyalty tax” or “loyalty premium”. Reflecting this understanding Australia’s governments, regulators and consumer advocates have encouraged consumers to switch electricity retailers. Our findings suggest the loyalty tax is (typically) smaller than widely considered, that it varies across tiers of retailers and that even engaged consumers typically do not select the lowest priced offers. This raises the question of whether switchers are motivated by other factors as well as lower bills or whether the main challenge is difficulties in search.
Download the working paper (523kbs) by clicking on the image (left).
A model for the estimation of residential rooftop photovoltaic capacity
A Working Paper by Bruce Mountain, Director, VEPC, Amine Gassem, AG-Study, Kelly Burns, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC, and Steven Percy, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC • April 2020
Estimates of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) capacity, by region and postcode, is publicly available in Australia. However, data on individual households’ rooftop PV capacity is not publicly available. This is valuable in price comparison and research, for example analysing the impact of rooftop solar in wholesale markets and on networks. We develop a model to estimate an individual household’s rooftop PV capacity, using data on the household’s estimated annual rooftop PV exports to the grid and its volume of annual grid electricity purchases. The model relies on simulated data of hypothetical rooftop PV systems, which are then used to estimate relationships between the variables.
Download the working paper (577kbs) by clicking on the image (left).
Presentations, Webinars and Podcasts
Electricity storage economics: contemporary developments
Energy Research Institutes Council for Australia (ERICA) • 10 December 2020 • Dr Steven Percy (Senior Research Fellow, VEPC), Dr Jenny Hayward (Research Scientist, Energy Technology group, CSIRO), Dr Dylan McConnell (Research Fellow, the University of Melbourne Climate and Energy College) and hosted by A/Prof Bruce Mountain (Director of the VEPC).
It is now obvious that variable renewable generation is the cheapest source of electricity production. But back-up in the form of dispatchable storage or dispatchable generation will be needed (amongst others) to ensure reliable 24/7 supply. How much and what type of storage is likely to be valuable? And how do the technical characteristics of different types of storage and their ability to provide ancillary and network services affect attractiveness to consumers and investors? In this webinar, three of Australia’s prominent researchers in this field talked about the work they are doing to answer these questions.
Is Australian policy support for Time-Of-Use tariffs doing more harm than good?
A podcast by Dr Kelly Burns, Senior Research Fellow, VEPC • 9 June 2020
The move towards variable electricity generation has seen a resurgence in the popularity of Time-Of-Use (TOU) tariffs with Australian regulators, policy makers, electricity distributors and retailers. Dr Kelly Burns reviews recent empirical evidence into the effectiveness of TOU tariffs to encourage Victorian households to shift load from high price peak periods to low price off-peak periods and critically analyses the policy support for these tariff structures. While TOU tariffs as a pricing option for households to consciously opt-in could offer benefits for some households, encouraging (or even forcing) the take up TOU tariffs will fail to achieve the policy objective of load shifting and may do more harm than good, particularly for poorer households.