The Australian Energy Markets Commission, the country’s principal rule maker, is due to deliver a paper later on Tuesday (after RenewEconomy’s newsletter bed-time) on the request for a change in the 30 minute settlement period to a 5 minute settlement.
The change has been requested by big energy users to help reduce “distortions” in the market and lower prices, and – more importantly – to deliver a signal for battery storage to enter the market with its ability for instantaneous response.
The move is being fiercely resisted by the fossil fuel generators, who fear the loss of competition, the loss of their ability to manipulate the market, and therefore the loss of revenue.
It’s hard to imagine the AEMC deciding against the 5 minute rule, although some would say it’s been hard to imagine many of its rulings. But the key will be in the extent and structure of the transition period. Unlike Australia’s switch to a floating currency, it won’t be overnight. Hopefully, the battery storage developers say, it won’t be phased in over too many years.
Here’s a few graphs to understand why the fossil fuel generators are so against the idea of encouraging fast-response: their generators are shockingly slow. They simply don’t react quickly enough from a standing start to compete within a 5-minute period, let alone with battery storage.
Dylan McConnell, from Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College, provided these graphs and notes that if he did the same for battery storage, it would simply be a vertical line – the time of synchronisation is one hundred milliseconds, and the time to full load is less than one second, and time to close down is less than a second.
Still, the fossil fuel lobby appears to have been working hard, convincing Coalition Senators that the 5 minute rule should be resisted, because ….
“Coalition Senators comment that the market price is currently averaged over 30 minutes. If generators were expected to jump on and off the grid every 5 minutes, the stability of the grid will be compromised. “
No it won’t. But anyway, they also said this:
“Many generators need more than half an hour to synchronise to the grid and have set forward contracts.”
Yes. But that’s not a reason to stand in the way of new technology, which, as the new head of the Australian Energy Markets Operator Audrey Zibelman has pointed out, will result in a grid that will be faster, cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable.