The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced funding of $7 million to encourage more wind farms, solar parks and battery installations to trial the provision of grid security services as the share of renewables continues to grow.
These grid services – such as frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS), fast frequency response (FFR) and inertia – have traditionally been provided conventional synchronous generation.
But grid managers are now turning to renewables and batteries to fill in the gap created by the increasing share of renewable energy and retirements of coal and gas plants.
Already, South Australia has seen the new Tesla big battery – known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – grab a significant share of the local FCAS market, puncturing price spikes orchestrated by the local gas cartel and delivering significant savings.
The intervention of the Tesla battery has been praised by the Australian Energy Market Operator both for the speed of its response, and its greater accuracy than conventional generators.
Trials have also been successfully completed at the neighbouring Hornsdale wind farm, which also showed that wind farms can provide cheaper and more accurate services than gas generators, and more trials are occurring at the Musselroe wind farm in Tasmania.
The latest ARENA funding initiative will encourage more wind and solar parks to provide those services, in turn helping pave the way for more renewables to join the grid.
“System security has been a key focus of industry regulators, the market operator and participants. It was also the priority of the Finkel Review,” CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.
“As our electricity system transforms from a system of centralised synchronous generators to more diversified generation that includes more and more renewables, we need to find ways to deliver power system stability and security using less fossil fuels.
“If successful, these pilot projects will save consumers money and create new revenue streams for solar, wind and battery operators,” he said.
The Hornsdale wind farm is now registered for six of eight different FCAS markets and will provide insights into the cost-benefit of using pre-curtailment to provide FCAS services from a new technology source.
“This funding initiative will build upon these projects and invites applications for additional system services to be provided by renewable technologies,” Frischknecht said.
“By reducing the need for thermal generation to keep the system stable, the cost of energy will reduce over time,” he said. Details of the funding initiative can be found here.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.