The Problem

THE ISSUES AND IMPACTS described for you in more detail…

In the early 1980s, the IEC[1] international standard, IEC 38 (AS 60038), was introduced to promote accord in global voltages.  What this meant for Australia is that in 1983 a 20-year plan was agreed whereby our “nominal voltage” would change from 240V to 230V to match up with most other countries.

Is this a good thing? The answer is, Yes. 

But …

some fluctuation is normal as loads increase and decrease. There is a prescribed buffer around our nominal voltage which makes allowance for those fluctuations in the distribution of our electricity.

The ‘a-ha! moment’ is that this buffer, in particular the upper range of what is termed “acceptable voltage”, has not been adjusted during those 37 years especially since we made the move from 240V to 230V in 2000.  This means that distribution of electricity has been allowed to fluctuate upward to 245V OR MORE for 75% of the time 

The upshot is that the extra voltage being delivered into our homes and businesses impacts us every day, and among the issues,  

  1. we pay for that excess electricity we are being force-fed every time we pay a power bill
  2. most appliances are designed and manufactured for acceptance of 230V – excessive current provides no improvement in an appliance’s performance – but it will create voltage stresses and wear them out more quickly, meaning you will need to replace them more often
  3. the benefits of rooftop solar feeding back into the system is not as effective as it could or should be
  4. power stations need to pump more energy out into the grid, meaning we’re bombarding the grid and allowing more carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

What we want to say to the Australian Federal Energy Minister is that the feed of electricity into our homes and businesses, substantially more than we need every day, has to be stabilised and regulated within optimum range, and their rules need to reflect this. Let us move into the 21st century of power distribution!

Let’s look at some active figures –

  • 75% of our electricity is distributed at 245 volts or more, and that’s much more than devices and appliances need to function effectively
  • Electricity generation is the largest source of emissions in the national inventory, accounting for 32.7 per cent of emissions in the year to March 2020[2]
  • Total electricity generation was 264 terawatt hours (950 petajoules) in 2018–19, the highest total generation on record for Australia[3]

[1] The IEC or International Electrotechnical Commission, an international standards organisation

[2] NGGI Quarterly Update March 2020

[3] Australian Energy Statistics 2020 Energy Update Report