Networks, grid operators seek more consultation on solar “orchestration” plan

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Industry and consumers have more time to weigh in on how best to “integrate” rooftop solar and battery storage, after a huge response to a consultation paper by AEMO and the ENA.

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Industry and consumers will now have more time to have their say on how best to integrate rooftop solar and battery storage into the grid, after a huge response to the subject that is currently being investigated by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the ENA.

In a statement on Friday, Energy Networks Australia said that due to “overwhelming interest,” the Open Energy Networks Consultation Paper, published jointly with AEMO in June, would now accept submissions from stakeholders until August 10, 2018.

That interest apparently manifested itself in capacity crowds at the stakeholder workshops AEMO and ENA held in Melbourne and Sydney this week, including representatives from the energy sector, government, private enterprise and community groups. A further workshop in Perth next week is already full booked.

But given the topic, the high level of interest was perhaps to be expected.

The paper proposes options for improving the grid to ensure household solar and storage work together to deliver value for all customers, by helping to bolster quality and reliability of supply and lower household power bills.

In doing so, the paper proposes three alternative network platform models, as well as a raft of “actions we should take now,” including: reviewing frameworks to allow large DER providers to participate in the central dispatch process; examining expanded information sharing between distribution network businesses and AEMO; and more work with local platform solutions.

It’s a hugely important issue, when you consider that AEMO itself has forecast rooftop solar to generate between 31-50TWh of power across the National Electricity Market by 2040, and supply up to 22 per cent national demand.

The numbers, laid out in the AEMO’s Integrated System Plan published earlier this week, put distributed solar and storage, or DER, on track to supply more power to the national grid than coal within little more than 20 years.

Likewise, it’s a critical issue for the 1.8 million households (and counting) that have invested in rooftop solar and are learning towards adding battery storage – if they haven’t already done so.

Not to mention the small and medium businesses that are rapidly following suit, or the booming rooftop solar and storage industry that is making it all happen.

“We must take action for everyone, especially consumers, and the public’s desire for information, collaboration and solutions is clear,” said acting ENA CEO Tamatha Smith, citing the fully booked Melbourne and Sydney this week, and coming up in Perth next week. A further workshop in Brisbane is in the works.

“The huge uptake of rooftop solar systems and the increasing growth of both household batteries and electric vehicles poses great opportunity, but also significant technical challenges for the distribution and transmission of electricity.

“This is changing how our energy system has been designed to work for more than a century – from a centralised one-way flow of electricity to consumer to a decentralised system, where households can feed power back into the grid.

“A re-design of the system to better accommodate this will provide opportunities for customers to have more choice and control of their energy needs, including how they interact with energy markets.”

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48 Comments
  1. howardpatr 4 months ago

    Not surprising, especially when the report by AEMO and ENA failed to even mention EVs and the huge amount of manageable and distributed energy storage capacity they will represent in the not too distant future.

    Have a look at what Nissan is doing in the V2G space.

    This is a very significant ommission that needs to be rectified.

  2. Hettie 4 months ago

    How long, I wonder, before 5kWh batteries reach the $2,000 mark? That’s enough to cover the evening from sunset to bed time, for the sensible. Flatten those peaks right out. Put the gas peakers out of business.
    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.
    You don’t like that idea?
    Well now, we, the customers, don’t much like your $14,000 mWh silly games, either. If you hadn’t been so greedy, we wouldn’t have rushed to go solar.
    You have only yourselves to blame.
    It’s called, “Pricing yourselves out of the market.”
    Suck it up, cupcakes.

    • Rod 4 months ago

      Battery prices seem to be sticky but I think learning by doing is bringing down the installation costs. I just put this system on a rental with an eye to adding the LG Chem 10kWh later.

      As we are “sensible”, this would enable us to go off grid at the push of a button if we were to move into this property.

      “6.6kW Solar System with Sungrow SH5K+ Hybrid Inverter
      ( + add later LG-CHAM 10kWh Battery when price drops… )
      Full price $5500 inc. GST

      BATTERIES (available)
      Lithium LG-CHAM 6.6kWh for $4200+GST) or 10kWh LG-CHAM $6200+GST

      https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-view-details.html?adId=1157443986

      • Hettie 4 months ago

        That’s interesting. Thank you Rod. I suspect that by late ’21, when my system is paid for, I might be able to look at getting a battery. Not sure about the inverter.
        I did ask for “Battery ready,” but is the Genius Primo suitable, or will that be an added cost.
        Solarguy, you will know.

        • solarguy 4 months ago

          Yes solarguy knows. Sorry to give you the good news, but the Primo isn’t battery ready in the true sense. The Symo hybrid is, more expensive to boot, but you will be glad you didn’t get it anyway. Why, I hear you ask, because you can only use Fronius battery and that bastard is very expensive.

          See my reply to Rod.

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Thanks for that, Sol.
            As you will see/have seen from further posts, I’ve now happily abandoned the idea.
            The AGL 20 cents/ kWh FiT means plenty of $ to cover all power costs and more. Around $600/year refund.
            Switch over any day now.

      • Joe 4 months ago

        Hi Rod, are those prices REALLY for real, especially for the batteries. They do seem to be rather ‘generous’. If I look at the years that the price for rooftop solar panels took to come down, I find it hard to believe that battery prices are coming in at those prices so quickly.

        • Rod 4 months ago

          Hi, yes that is his ad on Gumtree. I had him install the system with the hybrid inverter. Jinko panels. These batteries need a suitable inverter unlike the Powerwalls (all in one) so that needs to be figured in.

      • solarguy 4 months ago

        Rod, Mate you say you have just had 6.6kw of Jinko panels including a Sungrow SH5K installed for $5500.

        Who are you kidding.

        • Rod 4 months ago

          I don’t know how he does it but yes that is correct.
          I think it is one of the options on his advert. (No battery, yet)
          https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-view-details.html?adId=1157443986

          P.S. Have you had any experience with these?
          https://www.commodoreaustralia.com.au/product/solar-hot-water-booster/
          I’ve just bought four used 250W Trina panels for $300 to hook it up.

          • solarguy 4 months ago

            So you have had the system installed for $5500 and didn’t pay anymore is that correct?

            Were you present at the time, did you confirm that they were actually Jinko’s and that the Sungrow Hybrid actually was it and nothing else?

            And did you sign an STC form?

            Can you confirm the system is working, sending power out to the grid?

          • Rod 4 months ago

            “So you have had the system installed for $5500 and didn’t pay anymore is that correct?”
            Yep.

            “Were you present at the time, did you confirm that they were actually
            Jinko’s and that the Sungrow Hybrid actually was it and nothing else?”
            I didn’t actually site the Jinko name on the panels but the invoice states they are Jinko. Definitely a Sungrow SH5K I don’t think I got the “+”.
            “And did you sign an STC form?”
            Yep.
            “Can you confirm the system is working, sending power out to the grid?”
            It was energised while I was there and the export/use/import lights were up and running. It is on a rental and I’m still waiting after a Month for Origin to fit the bi-directional meter. Then I will be able to watch it using the SAPN NMI portal.
            I think I may be up for an isolator at the meter but I did get a free wi-fi dongle.
            I also got the off grid box. STB5K backup box

    • Ren Stimpy 4 months ago

      Not to mention the grid batteries that will do the same with even better economies of scale.

      • Hettie 4 months ago

        Indeed

        • rob 4 months ago

          Hettie it is my belief that a Fronius primo is Battery ready……. but I am no electrician……I have 1 too!

    • charles frogg 4 months ago

      Wow cannot wait for $2000 5KWH batteries with all the rest I have invested to lower my power bill another $2000 seems like chicken feed. Actually thats what I will pay for my electricity over the next 10 years. Adding up the cost of my solar panels and other expensive infrastructure I have installed my heart bleeds for the days of the $90 a quarter power bill when all power was produced by cheap coal fired power stations.and never having to constantly worry about the cost of our power and ways to use less expensive renewable power to balance the family budget.Given that most of my installation will only last for 10 to 15 years the mind boggles at what cost it will be after 15years to be able to afford electricity to heat my water and cook my meals..

      • Ren Stimpy 4 months ago

        $90 a quarter power bills produced by cheap coal? (and you forgot cheap gas, which is never ever coming back).

        Mate if you remember those kinds of prices from the coal era I reckon you are at least 80 years old. Sorry to be the one to tell you but you don’t need to worry about the price of batteries in 15 years!

        • Rod 4 months ago

          LOL. I remember $90 electricity bills and I’m nudging 60. But I’ve always been a tight RS. Back then we averaged around 9kWh/day (except HWS in Winter) Now days around 4kWh/day. That’s thanks to premium FiTs making me even tighter.

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Money is a great motivator!

          • Rod 4 months ago

            The credits are tax free too 😉

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Good, innit.

      • Hettie 4 months ago

        Have you remembered to translate the $90 to 2018 $?
        In 1975, annual income of $10,000 was in the top 10%
        Now, the top 10% are above $200,000
        So say a factor of 20?
        90 *20=$2,000
        You must have been using power like there was no tomorrow!
        Give us a year for your $90 power bill, and we will be able to translate to NPV.

        You are conveniently overlooking the FACT that renewables plus storage are now selling power for a little less than coal, and vastly less than gas.
        The big jump in the price of power is due to privatisation. Profits for shareholders, advertising, are costs that did not apply when generation and distribution were in public ownership. Power was and is an essential service, and in public ownership was required only to cover real costs. Plant was properly maintained, but there were relatively frequent power cuts, remember.
        Then came the gold plating by the now privately owned generation and distribution companies. Over investment in gas peakers, which might be used only for a few hours a year, and lie idle most of the time. Upgrading of networks beyond the need level.
        The forecast for increasing demand was wrong. Demand fell, with more efficient appliances, better building regulations, and most of all, the loss of manufacturing off shore. So now, the cost of all that overinvestment must be borne by a much smaller customer base.
        Just as well renewables are driving wholesale prices down. Though to hear the Murdoch media and the shock jocks, the opposite is true.
        But they are LYING TO YOU.

    • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

      It’s interesting Hettie that there is already a market for second hand EV batteries at about that price mark, which can only grow as the numbers of EVs increases. So while the rise in EVs will hold the new purchase price of batteries up, the secondhand market for batteries no longer holding enough charge for drivers will be ideal for home use!

      • Hettie 4 months ago

        Mmmm. Any estimate of installation/adaptation costs, Mike?

        • Mike Westerman 4 months ago

          No sorry but the provided “off-grid” single line diagram could be adapted readily by a competent electrician: http://evwest.com/support/EV%20West%20Off%20Grid%20Back%20Up.pdf

          • solarguy 4 months ago

            Had a look at the diagram Mike. I have the same inverter, but I to say it would be very expensive way to charge an EV.

  3. Aerial Fencer 4 months ago

    The distribution networks would prefer high capacity/low power that take 5+ hrs to fully charge or discharge and smooth out peaks of consumption and PV generation. Right now consumers tend to want low capacity/high power batteries that maximise return on investment. I think this gap in desires is where some government subsidies might exist.

    • Hettie 4 months ago

      Interesting.
      Right now, my panels feed in over 20 kWh on average, although this drops substantially in overcast weather, and on one day a couple of weeks ago to 195 watts. The only time in 9 months that it has been less than 3kWh.
      I buy in between 2 and 7 kWh, again depending on weather, as the big heater in the sky keeps me warm in winter, and the concrete floor releases the day’s warmth in the evening, reducing the load on the RCAC.

      • Aerial Fencer 4 months ago

        Best economic use case of a battery in a grid connected system is for it to fully charge and discharge every day. You want to maximise the amount of kwh going through your battery (cost of installed battery divided by kwh stored during its lifetime), and that means your night activities should fully drain the battery everynight. That typically means high discharge over a couple hours.
        If you goals are not “return on investment” but going off grid, or ensuring the lights stay during a black out the math changes.

        • Hettie 4 months ago

          Go off grid? Hell no! I need the grid to get FIT, which eliminates the power bill, and a bit more, so that I pay less now for having panels and an 8% loan to pay for them, than I paid while not having them. Come Nov. ’21, I will be well ahead. No power bill, no repayments, an effective 10% boost to the budget, and a small, very small income too.
          The seasonal variation in my consumption will be quite wide. Not much cooling load in summer, with mountain climate, high diurnal temperature variation making for good over night cooling just from natural airflow, and very efficient house, carefully managed.
          Winter heating is a much bigger issue, so while January daily buy in was only 2.7 kwh, June was 7.1. Nearly all power purchased is in the dark hours. Year round.
          A 5kWh battery splits the difference. Not quite enough during winter, more than enough in summer. Or would you advise going even smaller?
          Depends what will be available in a year or two of course, and how much prices come down.
          It’s all a bit hard to figure. And would 6 months each year of only partial disvcharge hurt the battery, or prolong it’s life, or neither?

          • Aerial Fencer 4 months ago

            for example. QLD. FIT 11c tariff 26, 5 kwh battery expected to last 15 years, fully charges and discharges every day. savings = (26c-11c)x5kwhx365daysx15yrs=$4,106. which means in this case if it costs more than $4000 to install the battery you are losing money. In fact its worse than that once you start considering things like, battery efficiency, capacity degredation, cost of finance, and typical battery warranty is nowhere near 15 yrs.
            At current prices, batteries only start to make sense if the difference between your FIT and retail tariff is 25c or more (Australian prices)

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Now that is exactly the info I need. Many thanks.
            New AGL FiT 20 c, fixed for 2 years. All day purchase price, 31.79 cents. So less than 12 c diff. No cigar.
            All the figures will change of course, over time.
            Look again next year, but start saving.
            Thanks again.
            PS. Not at all sure that my warranty is for as long as 15 years.

          • Joe 4 months ago

            Hi Hettie, I like you am changing over to AGL ( me from Energy Australia @ 12.5cents FiT ). The 20 cent FiT is just too good to pass up. I’ll take that 20cents for the guaranteed 2 years and then the game resumes again as to who pays how much FiT. I’m a light electricity user ( import 2-3 kWh a day, tops ) so the desired home battery may be waiting for some time…I’ll let the battery prices come down some more.

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Now that I’m using RCAC , not gas, for heating, my usage has jumped from 3 ish in April to 6ish now, but that’s about $1.00 /day, where the gas was $3.00 ish. No contest. And although I will use it a tiny bit on the worst summer afternoons, , that won’t amount to much.
            I calculated I’ll be $300 better off with AGL than with Powershop, over 8 months, so more like $400 for a full year.
            Wish they would get on with the changeover..
            My water pump uses a fair bit, but mostly in solar hours, so it’s not an issue.
            Glad I’ve now enough info to decide against a battery. I’m exporting 20+ kWh now that miserable June is over, and as the days get longer, frosty nights and golden days are to be expected. But I shall save my pennies anyway. Not hard, when one doesn’t go out much.

          • solarguy 4 months ago

            20cents FIT sounds great, but what is SAC increase in comparison?

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            See my reply to PLDD, above.
            Mainland may be less. Best ask them.

          • Ian 4 months ago

            Apologies in advance, but Hettie your numbers are a nice example.

            Just for fun, looking at your FiT and tariff. You rely on the grid to do your solar output storage for you. How ‘efficient is that storage? 1kWh gets you 20c , and you can buy 20/31.79 kWh back: 63% efficient. Not a very good ‘battery’ , but for you that probably doesn’t matter, considering that a real battery is so expensive.

            Many retailers limit exports of electricity to 5kW, but if they didn’t, you could install a little more solar panel capacity. 4/5/.63=1.3kWsolar panels to be cost-neutral for your nighttime use. That’s roughly $1300 vs 4x365x31.79c =$464/year : about three years to pay off the solar plus grid ‘battery’ setup.

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            I look at it this way, Ian. June each year here is overcast and cold. Not a lot if output, and because there is little sun, the house does not get free heat during the day.
            No battery is going to give me reliable power for the best part of a month. But the grid does, and is very stable. Two outages, both less than 1 hour, in seven years. I can live with that. The rest of the year, seldom more than 2 or 3 dark days on the trot. Average daily output since installation October10th last year has been around 26 kwh. I have not had to pay anything to Powershop since 11November. The feed in and accumulated credit has been more than enough to cover it.
            The Loan repayments are a bit more than I was paying for power, but the extra credit is just enough to cancel that with a bit of change
            Adding more panels is not necessary. The system is totally paying for itself, and when the payments are finished, my disposable income jumps by 10%.
            The house, despite big areas of dg windows, is easy to heat, and the air conditioning is keeping the living areas at 22C without any trouble or much noise.
            So although the idea if a battery is attractive, it is clearly not cost effective yet, and may never be. .

          • PLDD 4 months ago

            Hettie – my experience parallels yours.

            A battery would work well in the summer and easily power the house over the night. But June is a great example of how successive days of low sun mean the battery cycles down quickly and there is never enough production in the day to recharge (my worst day was 5KWh) and provide household power. It becomes exponentially more expensive to use batteries over such a prolonged period….I haven’t done the sums but suspect to have not imported power in June would have required 30 to 40KWh of batteries.

            In effect that grid connection is needed for that last 5% of the power you need as that last 5% is very very expensive as it’s infrequently used. I can see very low power users getting away with it but my use is 15KWh summer and 30+ in the depths of winter.

            I too have switched to the AGL 20c solar deal. I was an existing customer and the online change was almost instaneous. I fed all my production consumption data into model and if it’s accurate it pays well even with a 32c standard unit charge (and the standing charge is cheaper than many of the ones usually as cheaper).

          • Hettie 4 months ago

            Here in regional NSW the DSC is not the advertised 92 cents, but a hefty $1.562. Which stinks.
            However, that’s once a day, and average *export* so far is close to 20 kWh. More than 30 in summer, best day 35.4. That’s 6.7 X face value of 5.3.
            I should get about $400 back, over the year, allowing for RCAC which seems to be costing about $1.00/day, despite frosts of minus 5 to minus 10•C . I just get up late, have the timer set to come on for 08:00. The gas was easily 3 times that, just for heating, and summer cooling will be needed only on the hottest days, because the house is so efficient, and night temps drop to single Figures or 15 at most. Cool the house overnight, thermal mass keeps it cool all day, and then the outside temp drops from about 17:30. Winter, the sun heats the exposed concrete floor, keeps me warm all day and into the evening.
            So use of leckie is low.
            22•C inside, year long.
            I’m happy.

          • rob 4 months ago

            #southaustralia

          • rob 4 months ago

            @[email protected]_9zhHMNTp7U:disqus obvious and probably not necessary for you but maybe for others………Clean your Solar Panels regularly…… I’m to old for roof climbing but my neighbours have a backpacker staying with them……..on 2 very similar days here in Adelaide my output increased by Over 1 Kw per hour (38 panels) 9.88 Kw system…….as they say cleanliness is next to non godliness lol…. that is for other to read hettie as I’m sure you have that under control. cheers rob

          • rob 4 months ago

            bye the way some idiot wanted $8 per panel .so approx $300…..Lee the backpacker did it for $75.00 plus cleaned my vile gutters in the price…….He is now in the process of “gardening” ie neither the Gas or Water people will read my meter as they can’t get to it! Have a good weekend cheers rob

          • Joe 4 months ago

            …send the Lee over to me.I don’t want to be clambering all over my rood either.

          • rob 4 months ago

            @[email protected]_0jfREGFpv3:disqus you need to feed him……give him a space to sleep and pay him $25 per hour……. he will need several jobs in your area……my email is [email protected]…..he is such a nice young bloke and has so many stories to tell….been backpacking for over 4 years!

          • rob 4 months ago

            feeding him is easy…….only fruit and veg, doesn’t drink or smoke and works like a slave

          • rob 4 months ago

            #sorryaboutyourpoochI2wouldbedevo

        • wideEyedPupil 4 months ago

          This is correct about economics of batteries, optimising daily usage is important to make it pay, although using to full Depth of Discharge (DOD) will impact battery life and performance so it’s not quite a linear economic proposition.

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