Future energy news
22 December 2021
In an Australian-first, Essential Energy has partnered with research and behavioural insights experts to learn more about the customer’s perspective when being offered a Stand Alone Power System or SAPS.
A SAPS is a power supply which includes solar panels, battery storage and usually a diesel generator. Depending on the size and power demand, the SAPS can support the full electricity requirements of residential households, telecommunications, and agricultural sites. There can be significant benefits for customers in deploying SAPS in NSW, particularly in regional and remote locations. Moving eligible customers to energy supplied by SAPS allows the ‘poles and wires’ of the traditional electricity infrastructure to be removed. This provides a significant reduction in costs which delivers savings to all network users. SAPS can also reduce bushfire risk as well as embed resilience in the network to withstand extreme weather conditions.
The behavioural insights research, which kicked off this month with in-depth interviews with a range of customers including farmers, large industry and residents who live at the so-called “edge of the grid”, will involve qualitative and quantitative research.
Chantelle Bramley, Executive General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Essential Energy and project sponsor said, “This research will help us unpack what our customers’ expectations and concerns might be about disconnecting from the grid; how we can create a compelling customer proposition for the range of commercial and residential customers for whom a SAPS may be viable and what support Essential Energy will need to provide.
“While we understand the reliability and cost benefits of this technology, we need to step back and really understand what is important to our customers. We want to get this transition right and involve our customers in the development of these new offerings. There are a range of benefits from this technology but unless they deliver what customers want we won’t get the sort of scale deployment we need to realise all those benefits”, she said.
Essential Energy has been investigating SAPS for a number of years, commencing in 2018 with a trial site in Bulahdelah. Immediately following the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020, SAPS were deployed into nine sites to support telecommunications towers and a small number of residential customers to have their power restored more quickly whilst waiting for the full network to be rebuilt. Essential Energy also remains engaged in the regulatory design of SAPS across both Government and Regulator stakeholders to ensure fit-for-purpose outcomes that best support NSW electricity consumers.