New trading platform aims to unlock investment in renewables, big batteries | RenewEconomy

New trading platform aims to unlock investment in renewables, big batteries

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Digital energy trading Renewable Energy Hub aims to drive project finance and investment in renewables and “firming technologies” like battery storage.

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A digital energy trading platform that paves the way for clean energy technologies, including “big batteries”, to participate directly and optimally in the wholesale electricity market is set to be launched with the backing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The first of its kind online market platform called the Renewable Energy Hub creates power purchasing deals customised to new energy technologies, including grid-scale battery storage systems, rather than outdated contract templates designed around coal and gas plants.

Renewable Energy Hub’s head of markets Chris Halliwell said the traditional market used by generators and retailers to hedge against huge fluctuations in wholesale electricity prices worked to effectively shut out new technologies by presuming an ability to provide “baseload” generation.

He says the Hub will be a “real head turner” for the electricity market when it launches in the next couple of months, and a boon to both renewable energy developers and big energy users.

The Hub’s parent company, TFS Green, has already successfully trialled a “firm solar contract” product, as RenewEconomy reported in 2018, which replicates the “shape” of solar generation, and then matches the buyer’s needs with contracts for supply to the wholesale market, thus guaranteeing a flat and fixed price for that power.

“It is de-risking and firming up solar generation for project owners and market participants,” Halliwell told RenewEconomy at the time.

But the scope of the fully-launched Renewable Energy Hub will extend well beyond solar and, says Halliwell, will be particularly well suited to “firming technologies” like battery storage.

“This effectively turns a financial firming solution into a physical firming solution, hastening the arrival of those storage and other balancing resources required to help the energy system make the required transition to 100 per cent renewables,” said Halliwell.

“It’s exactly what the market needs, beyond subsidies and beyond PPAs,” Halliwell told RE in an interview on Monday, as new reports emerge warning that the Coalition’s energy policy void could reverse the positive effects on the NEM of a massive roll-out of large-scale solar and wind.

Already, the lack of any longer-term renewable energy policy beyond the RET is believed to have been a bit player in a massive slump in investment in large-scale solar and wind in 2019, confirmed at 60 per cent below 2018 levels by BloombergNEF, and at a 50 per cent reduction by the Clean Energy Council.

“(The Renewable Energy Hub) will drive project finance and investment and unlock uptake of renewaables,” Halliwell said, allowing renewable energy developers to capture better pricing via contracts better suited to their technology type.

“It will also provide new incentives for market players to seek out assets – such as batteries and other ‘balancing’ resources – that can firm up the intermittency of renewables.”

On the other side of the market, Halliwell added, it will help meet the demands of a booming audience of corporate customers looking to transact energy in a different way.

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