A “world-first” energy trading platform has been launched across five Australian solar farms in Queensland and Victoria, with the aim of navigating electricity market volatility – and in particular dodging the negative pricing event that threaten solar business models.
Renewable energy developer Edify Energy says it has now gone “llive” with the strategic bidding software developed by AMS – a California start-up backed by former California governor, solar champion and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The AMS software uses a range of inputs and a proprietary machine learning algorithm to predict market prices, optimise around local grid constraints and recommend bids that maximise financial returns for solar projects.
The trading platform extends across 438MW of operational PV projects that Edify manages and partly owns, including the 180MW Daydream solar farm in Queensland, and Victoria’s Tesla big battery-backed Gannawarra solar farm.
Edify says the portfolio – which also includes the Hayman (60MW), Whitsunday (69MW) and Hamilton (69MW) solar farms, all in Queensland – represented the first use of AI-based trading for utility-scale solar “anywhere in the world.”
Indeed, Australia is as good a place as any for the technology to be debuted, with wind and solar farms increasingly being switched off when wholesale electricity prices fall into negative territory.
As Edify notes in its release, the effects of this sort of price volatility have been especially acute in Queensland, where between August and October this year, energy prices were negative for a total of 98.5 hours – a rate 25 times higher than the same time in 2018.
As Giles Parkinson reported here, the impact of this on solar projects can be fairly brutal. In the case of the Taliem Bend facility in South Australia, for example, it has meant switching off every other day, in line with the terms of its off-take agreement with Snowy Hydro.
Edify, which has had some better outcomes than others in the latest changes to marginal loss factor ratings, believes the AMS software will put more power back in the hands of solar project owners.
“AMS’s AI solution is generating real value for the solar farm owners and will help us navigate price volatility and constraints, particularly through the summer and shoulder months,” said Edify CEO John Cole.
For AMS, which first hit RenewEconomy’s radar in 2015 as the Schwarzenegger-backed Advanced Microgrid Solutions, the deployment of its platform across these five solar projects is considered a “significant expansion” of its capabilities.
“Edify Energy has shown real vision and been an excellent partner to work with,” said the company’s new CEO, Seyed Madaeni.
“We believe that this is the first time AI trading of solar has been deployed anywhere in the world and demonstrates AMS’s ability to manage assets under a range of market conditions.
“As renewable installations increase in Australia and around the world, this type of software service will become essential for renewables asset managers to improve returns. With AMS AI, solar’s future is even brighter,” Madaeni said.
Elsewhere in Australia, AMS has already been demonstrating its abilities at the 100MW Snowtown 1 wind farm in South Australia, as reported here.
The company’s former CEO and founder Susan Kennedy – a former chief of staff to Schwarzenegger when he was the climate conscious and pro-renewables governor of California – said Australia, with its high uptake of renewables, had taken a leadership position in the world.
“What is happening here will be replicated around the world …. and you need to cost-effectively manage the integration of renewables,” she told RenewEconomy in an August interview from the company’s base in California.