The Australian Energy Market Commission has teamed up with the CSIRO to investigate the impact of distributed energy storage on the national grid.
The chief rule maker for Australia’s energy markets said on Thursday it had engaged the CSIRO to research how different storage technologies could be used at various parts of the electricity supply chain, and the implications of this for peak and total demand.
AEMC says the project is part of its effort to understand how technological change might impact the National Electricity Market, and how the it can use regulatory levers to ensure the market is flexible and resilient enough to respond to this change.
Distributed energy storage – variously described as the “holy grail” of renewables, or the “killer app” of solar penetration – is widely tipped to fast-track the evolution of electricity markets, offering significant benefits to renewable energy consumers (including the 1.4 million Australian households with rooftop solar PV) by allowing them to better match their generation to their usage needs.
The move by the AEMC to collaborate with the CSIRO on energy storage is a good sign for a regulator whose last report seemed to be informed by the same anti-renewables sentiment that has recently plagued Australian energy policy.
As reported here, the Commission’s December report to the COAG Energy Council was dismissive of the benefits of renewables – compared to business as usual – and of having coal-fired power stations out of the system.
But in a release on Thursday, the AEMC said large-scale storage systems could be used by networks to “reduce congestion, smooth network peaks, mitigate outages or provide network support in remote areas – all of which potentially reduce the need for spending on network infrastructure, thereby reducing the cost of network services for consumers.”
It also said that storage systems connected to power stations could allow generators to better manage variations in wholesale prices between times of high and low demand, or better integrate variable generation sources like large-scale wind.
The AEMC said it would provide details of stakeholder engagement in the project in coming months and would publish a report of its findings.