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.”