About Richard Chirgwin

Richard Chirgwin is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of technology topics, including electronics, telecommunications, computing and science.

AEMO Judgement On SA VPPs: Yes, They Help The Grid And Turn A Profit

South Australia VPP - tesla powerwall 2

The Tesla VPP in South Australia networks thousands of residential Powerwall batteries to work together, support the grid and make money. How did it go in its first 12 months? Pretty good.

South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant isn’t just delivering electricity to consumers in that state – it’s also proven successful at helping the SA grid respond to grid-scale events. And that grid-response is a profitable sideline for the VPP. [Read more…]

A View From The UK: Consumer-Friendly Services Vital To Reach Net-Zero

Net zero carbon emissions in the UK

The UK is moving much faster than Australia towards net zero emissions. What can we learn from the Poms?

I’m often wary when I hear someone say “regulation is getting in the way of innovation”, because it’s so often led to disastrous deregulation of things that matter – public safety, building regulation, product safety and the like. [Read more…]

AC? DC! Why SunCable Chose DC To Export Aussie Sun to Singapore

Sun Cable and HVDC

Millions of solar panels sending Australian solar energy to Singapore via a 3,800 km cable. Crazy or genius?

I first learned about how the electricity grid works in the early 1980s, which meant I was taught the conventional wisdom of the times: high-voltage AC (alternating current) transmission was ubiquitous because it was the most efficient way to send electricity the long distances needed by the electricity grid. [Read more…]

Build It And They Will Come: Transmission Key To 100% Renewable Energy

transmission lines

ANU’s Professor Andrew Blakers says we need to build out transmission lines urgently.

If you wanted to block the expansion of renewable energy, a good place to start is to put bureaucratic roadblocks in the way of new, long distance electricity transmission infrastructure.

Discussing his participation in last week’s 100% renewable energy workshop at ANU, the university’s Professor Andrew Blakers told SolarQuotes transmission is the biggest short-term problem facing renewables in Australia. [Read more…]

100% Renewables Is Hard – But 96% Is Easy Says Windlab’s David Osmond

96% Renewable Energy In Australia

The road to 96% renewables is relatively cheap and easy. So let’s crack on!

A common delaying tactic of the enemies of our environment is to repeatedly remind us getting to 100% renewables, even for electricity generation, is difficult and expensive.

100% renewable is expensive, says Windlab’s David Osmond – but getting nearly all the way there, 96%, is easy and relatively cheap. [Read more…]

AEMC Wants Your Ideas On Grid-Integrated EVs

Integrating EVs into the mains grid

The Australian Energy Market Commission is thinking about how EVs will affect the grid.

About ten years ago when I first heard about the idea of grid-integrated electric vehicles, I thought it was far-fetched. It seemed odd to think that someone would charge an EV only to send that electricity back to the grid. [Read more…]

How To Get A Credit Refund From Your Electricity Company

Electricity retailer credit refund

If you expect your energy retailer to send you any money they owe you without you asking for it, you may be disappointed.

A reader’s email last week led me down too many rabbit holes, but I think it was worth it. The reader asked us to look into how electricity companies handle refunds of customer credits accumulated under solar feed-in tariffs (FiTs). Can customers get credit refunds automatically, and what happens to credits at the end of a contract? [Read more…]

Heywood Interconnector Failure Hammers SA Battery Owners On Tesla VPP

Tesla VPP battery cycling

Screen captures from a Tesla VPP customer’s monitoring app. Look at that battery go! Green is battery, grey is grid. Above the line is using battery/grid. Below the line is charging battery/exporting to the grid.

Tesla Powerwall owners taking part in South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) project have a continuing exciting ride for a few more days yet. [Read more…]

Tesla, Crap Customer Service And Australian Consumer Law

Tesla electric vehicle customer support - Model S

A two year old, $150,000 Tesla has a failed headlight. Tesla are refusing warranty, and want more than $4,000 to replace it.

Tesla’s notorious customer support is on display again, with a Model S owner offered a repair bill of $4,000 for a headlamp that failed a little over two years after purchase. [Read more…]

Sungrow Crabby With Researcher Over Inverter Security Vulnerability Disclosure

A Brisbane researcher has alleged serious security vulnerabilities in a Sungrow inverter. Sungrow are not happy with him.

Update: patch available – see end of story

A few months after I wrote about security in the home renewables space, a Brisbane engineer bought a Sungrow SH5k-20 inverter, decided to “poke around”, and claims to have turned up a crop of serious security vulnerabilities. [Read more…]