Thousands of WA households with solar panels could begin disconnecting from the electricity grid once batteries became "affordable and reliable", Australia's peak renewable energy lobby has claimed.
Warning about the huge financial implications for traditional energy businesses unless governments got policy settings right, the Clean Energy Council said residential solar customers could soon become independent of the network.
The warning was outlined in a submission by the CEC to WA's Economic Regulation Authority, which has been calling for submissions on proposals for microeconomic reform.
According to the council, rooftop solar panels could help solve major problems plaguing the grid by encouraging households to position their systems westwards to produce energy during peak demand periods.
Peak demand typically occurs for only a few hours a year when air-conditioner use soars, yet the cost of meeting it - in extra poles, wires and power stations - accounts for up to a quarter of an average annual bill.
Enticing households to face their solar panels westwards, the CEC said, could help avoid or defer billions of dollars in upgrades to the electricity system and cut power bills.
However, it said governments, including WA's, needed to make sure smartmeters were being rolled out.
The council also said the State Government should introduce a scheme which paid householders more when their solar panels pumped electricity into the grid at times of peak demand.
"In the near future affordable and reliable battery storage will give customers the option of removing themselves from the grid altogether," the council said in its submission."However, disconnections would lead to very inefficient use of the network and there is more economic benefit to be gained from retaining distributed generation on the grid."