Western Power, the main network owner in Western Australia, is launching a trial this weekend with local businesses to see how incentives can be used to encourage customers to best manage their rooftop solar, battery storage and flexible loads..
The trial, known as the “Flexibility Services Pilot” will look at how commercial and industrial businesses with large distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar PV, battery storage, and manageable loads such as heating and cooling systems, can manage their load in return for a financial incentive.
“The pilot is part of our drive to innovate the energy landscape in WA and make sure businesses and homes can continue to access renewable energy, providing a greener energy future and sustainable energy supply for all customers,” Western Power’s head of change and innovation, Tracy Deveugle-Frink, said in a statement.
She said similar trials in the United Kingdom and the United States had successfully moved the load-generation mix, helping support network stability and the continued uptake of renewables.
W.A. is experiencing a growing amount of rooftop solar as a percentage of its total generation, to the point where the Australian Energy Market Operator is concerned that “minimum” operational demand will fall to a level – below 600MW – that will make the grid difficult to manage.
The W.A. grid – known as the South West Interconnected System is unique as it is completely isolated, with no links to neighbouring grids. the government recently launched a distributed energy roadmap that looked at ways that the increasing amount of solar and batteries could be managed, along with options for load.
“The pilot is part of our drive to innovate the energy landscape in WA and make sure businesses and homes can continue to access renewable energy, providing a greener energy future and sustainable energy supply for all customers,” Deveugle-Frink said.
As part of the trial, participating businesses will be asked to modify their energy use and generation between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm on specific weekends in Spring 2020 and Autumn 2021.
These are the seasons when rooftop solar penetration is highest – the need for heaters and air conditioners is lowest, and where minimum loads have fallen tor record levels. The situation is exacerbated on the weekend, when energy demand is lowest..
“Western Power’s grid was originally envisioned as a one-way power flow network – from generators to customers,” the company says. “With today’s two-way flow of power into the grid from rooftop solar and batteries, we’re continuing to innovate to manage network needs effectively.”