Centralised generation such as coal-fi red power stations have historically dominated electricity generation in Australia. The alternative is on-site (or embedded) generation of electricity to be used ‘behind the meter’, such as by your business itself. This offsets the energy you consume and in most circumstances allows you to export surplus energy back to the grid. The rate at which businesses get paid, or the feed-in tariff, for the exported electricity varies between states.
Embedded generation reduces the amount of energy you pay for, but not how much energy you actually use. Most embedded generation is renewable and therefore has a signifi cant environmental benefi t.
SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) GENERATION
Solar photovoltaic (PV) generation is the most common type of embedded generation in Australia. Solar PV is suitable for both urban and rural environments and a range of sizes can be cost effectively installed for an SME. North-facing roof space is the preferred orientation, however viable systems can be designed for east and west-facing roofs. Depending on your hours of operation this may actually improve the fi nancial return on investment as time-of-use tariffs (explained later) may mean that your electricity is more expensive in the late afternoon/evening when a west-facing solar
installation is still producing. In general the sizing of the PV system should be matched against the demand for energy, minimising the export of energy, due to the low feed-in tariff received in most regions of Australia.
IMPACT OF EMBEDDED GENERATION ON CONSUMPTION