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Regulator pushes for household battery storage register to remove “blind spot”

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Australian energy regulator are pushing forward with their proposal for a national register of Australia’s booming home battery installations, arguing that failing to do so would create a “blind spot” that would make management of the grid more difficult.

Australia has few battery storage installations -probably around 10,000 – but actual data is difficult to obtain because households are not required to tell energy utilities or regulators – unlike rooftop solar, they do not attract incentives that require registration.

But with forecasts of battery storage ranging up to 1 million installations by 2030, regulators are worried this could create a massive blind spot for grid operators, and a potential missed opportunity to harness their collection benefits.

A discussion paper issued by the Australian Energy Market Commission estimates it would cost around $10 million dollars to establish and operate a register, but would have multiple long-term benefits, including improved power system security and reduced grid costs.

The main purpose of this DER register would be to track the nation’s battery storage uptake, which is on the verge of a boom that some predict will mirror the uptake of rooftop solar by Australian homes and businesses.

In a notice published on Tuesday, calling for consultation on the proposed register, the AEMC notes projections that 100,000 batteries could be installed behind the meter around Australia by 2020, and one million by 2030.

But while rooftop solar systems are currently kept track of via the Clean Energy Regulator, as part of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, there is an energy market “blind spot” on home battery installations.

The AEMC argues that a DER register remove this blind spot, giving the Australian Energy Market Operator and distribution network businesses more data to help keep the power system secure and safe – and prices stable.

And extensive modelling by Energy Networks Australia has supported this view. It showed that by orchestrating the nation’s distributed energy resource (DER), and coordinating the dispatch of it in a sensible way, network charges could be reduced by 30 per cent, annual savings delivered to households, and up to $1.4 billion in network investment avoided.

On the flip-side, as AEMO principal Dr Jenny Riesz told the APVI Asia Pacific Solar Research conference in December last year, the failure to coordinate Australia’s growing DER could have “a severely detrimental effect,” and increase the need for centralised investment.

According to the AEMC consultation paper, the main potential benefits to AEMO of a register would be:

•having more information about load profile and response to better manage the system within the technical envelope, including scheduling generation, and managing voltage and contingency events;

•having the necessary information to identify and respond to non-credible contingency and protected events, such as DER unexpectedly disconnecting at a certain frequency, and expected but rare events, such as extreme weather incidents and solar eclipses;

•reducing the cost of frequency control ancillary services (FCAS), by improving forecasting and dispatch of FCAS.

And the paper points to the Jacobs cost benefit analysis, published in June 2017, which found that a register – while costly to establish – would likely improve the networks’ ability to forecast peak demand, thus leading to greater efficiencies in the network augmentation expenditure.

“This is because the presence of DER within a distribution network is likely to depress peak demand, forestalling the need for system augmentation,” the paper said.

The rule change request follows work by the COAG Energy Council’s Energy Market Transformation Project Team which found that the benefits of a register of small-scale battery systems would outweigh its costs. The Finkel Review had also recommended the development of a framework for gathering data on DER.

Submissions on the proposed rule are due by 17 April 2018. The AEMC will also hold a stakeholder workshop to discuss the proposal on March 17, from 10am to 1pm at its Sydney office.  

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  • Kevfromspace

    Every time a battery is installed to a grid-connected premises, the resident must first make a grid application through the local network. These networks must have a register of all approved battery installations across Australia. Surely this reaoures could be tapped into for the DER register.

    • MaxG

      Don’t tell ’em…

  • GlennM

    If this was from the AEMO not the AEMC then I would say good idea.

    However I have a deja vu feeling, did not the German National Socialist party say that “registering all Jews” was just an administration convenience..and we know where that headed.

    So will this be the start of “higher prices” if you have a battery ?

    What I do in the privacy of my behind my meter is my business not theirs..

    • Hettie

      In the electricity market, if it looks like a dead rat, and it stinks like a dead rat, AEMC is likely to be close by.

      • Joe

        Time to get the ‘Pied Piper’ on the case with AEMC.

        • Hettie

          Even the pied piper needs the rats to be alive so they can follow him

          • Joe

            Touche !

  • Ray Miller

    I refer to Alan Pears recent article which points out the main reason for the NEM was not to deliver energy services at least cost and to our community.
    The AEMC thinking this is a good idea? How is implementation of the 5 minute trading rule going?
    The AEMC should not be allowed out of their office and not do anything else until the 5 minute rule is operational, that includes them not being paid!
    Then they need to apply for all their own jobs and compete against all comers.

    NEM “blind spot”, the exhaustive list of blind spots currently exist and no one has done anything about knowing about them?
    The NEM has no idea of any added massive loads behind the meter, nor do they know the temperature sensitivity of the load behind the meter (example of Vic substations blowing fuses and equipment due to overloads in extreme temperatures). They have no idea how many tin sheds with inefficient air-conditioners they have on the network. They have no idea if behind the meter is a 10 star dwelling with efficient appliances or the air-conditioned tin shed with solar and batteries? They only want to know how many batteries?
    Then they will add the extra cost on to the end customer and they will never see any savings, as this will be divided between the cartels.
    What dribble by the AEMC.
    Let’s remove the rotten eggs (AEMC) from the basket first before any NEM changes are even suggested.

    • Hettie

      Glad to see that someone else is deeply suspicious of AEMC. I cannot believe that anything they touch would be for the benefit of the consumer. More likely an attempt to impose a license fee on battery owners, or a demand that home batteries be made available to the grid at times of the so euphemistically named “load shedding.”
      Cynical of me? Hell yes.

      • Ray Miller

        In Queensland we have the Competition Authority who has repeatedly looked at all the costs (real and perceived) of delivering energy services and removed from the kWh charges as many items as possible and converted them into meter charges, service charges etc and paid as little as possible for solar.
        The Competition Authority was particularly corrupt when it had a Liberal appointee under Campbell Newman, who immediately resigned when Newman was defeated so he was not sacked.
        So any costs associated with any NEM’s added requirement behind the meter battery storage will be recovered from the end user if not today tomorrow.

        I have no problem with the end user being paid for any service they may sign up to provide grid support.
        But it is a bridge to far to require monitoring of battery backups when they do not require other more damaging peak loads causing $10’sk extra network costs.

        • Stephen Allen

          The register serves to chain those pesky decentralised community owned energy systems to the centralised grid and preserve the oligarchic control of Australia’s energy system that is governed by energy plutocrats (the previous Federal ALP Minister for Resources is the classic plutocrat) and their bureaucrats on behalf of the energy oligarchy. They treat us as mere energy consumers not energy citizens who may wish to take control of their energy future such that they are not being ripped off by the oligarchs each quarter and seeing their planet burn due to the dogmatic slumber of the oligarchs.

      • Joe

        Yep, I’m with you on this one young Hettie. One has to wonder what really is behind this sudden interest in home batteries. As ‘Kevfromspace’ has noted in his comment a little further down the page the authorities already have a record of battery installs. Is it ‘Bunker time’ again? Is it an easy chance to milk home battery owners for some extra of their hard earned? With the energy retailers now rolling out smart meters under the “Power of Choice” banner it is easy to see that home battery owners will be roped into the overall business of the energy sharks aka energy retailers.

    • Stephen Allen

      These plutocrats only want data on batteries to develop policy to prevent the shift away from centralised energy and loss of market power of the oligarchic energy corporations that are served by the plutocrats and their energy bureaucrats. Decentralised community owned energy systems undermine the neoliberal energy oligarchic plutocracy that conserves its current power through the archaic centralised energy system of Australia.

  • Ian

    You’re all sooo suspicious, come on, nobody’s going to use this data against you? Are they? Perhaps the networks installing cameras in our showers to monitor hot water usage would be more appropriate, since this is the biggest household load. My household has a number of battery storage devices including some apple products, would these be classed as home storage and require registration?

    Good joke and it’s not even April Fools yet.

    • Ian

      There are other metrics that can be used to estimate battery storage uptake, just as there are for air conditioners and other large appliances. That is the actual demand profile of individuals, suburbs and cities. That should be good enough to plan for grid upgrades.

    • Stephen Allen

      Hey Ian, have a look at the education and employment history of the executives of the energy corporations, their regulators.and the law makers.. it is all one big family preserving their energy empire. The Greeks refer this as an oligarchic plutocracy, here an energy oligarchic plutocracy. Do you see them advocating community owned decentralised energy systems… no of course not, its all about preserving the existing energy corporation disguised by the “efficient NEM” deception. Do they refer to us as energy citizens or mere energy consumers… Do they advocate publicly or community owned energy systems? You begin to see the picture.

  • Robert Westinghouse

    National Battery Register – BULL…. Essential Energy had to know about mine. But an elaborate plot to limit battery installations and waste $10 million – I would do it for $5 million. May as well have a register of how many Mars Bars are eaten by men between 32 and 57 years…. what poppy cock, it is to keep us enslaved to BIG energy.

  • MaxG

    None of their business what I have behind the meter; and if it means cutting the chord. Screw these clowns.
    From an IT perspective, I am happy to give them a system capable of what they need including 5 years of free use for 10m$. They never heard of digital transformation, self-registration, robot process automation, etc.

  • solarguy

    The whole reason I have a battery system is that I could be self sufficient and not use expensive grid power. In doing that I am lessening load demand on the grid. The more home battery systems the better for the grid.

    They will know from data analysis how low the demand will become and therefore plan how much storage the grid will need, including how much storage for certain weather events no matter if they are prolonged or not.

    I don’t know why anyone that invested in a battery would want to allow their storage to be pilfered by the greedy bastards.

  • Graeme Harrison

    The main reason consumers install batteries ‘behind the meter’ is to lessen their involvement with, and rip-off by Big Energy, which has operated as an oligopoly due to its bribes (political donations) to Big Government.

    If people really want the government in their living rooms and bedrooms, they should have an optional self-registration, where consumers disclose how many traditional electrical heaters they have, how many & size of aircon units, what form of water-heating they use, if they use pool pumps etc, and if they have solar or batteries and what size. This will be unacceptable to the Australian people.

    Just as ‘authorities’ do not need to track your every movement, for transport planning, overall road usage stats (as they change year by year) is sufficient for planning the transport grid… just as ‘net’ usage by consumers is sufficient for planning the needs of the electricity grid.

    The correct model going forward is to remember why ‘off-peak hws’ was the right solution for the past half-century. Regulators can ‘induce’ consumers to allow ‘chunks of load’ (eg aircon, pool pumps) or whole premises (eg whole house) to switch to ‘IP-controlled’ smart meter, so that their load could be turned off for 15min (not more than once every hour) if the network is stressed, but for this concession, the consumer gets significant pricing concessions. Such are innovative ways to achieve great network planning, without the state needing cameras in people’s homes!

  • Stephen Allen

    This is about preserving the existence of centralised energy and in turn protecting the existing oligarchic energy corporations that were established and maintained through the laws passed by the plutocracy on behalf of the energy oligarchy. Just have a look at the executive family members of the market regulator, market operator, the energy corporations, the energy council etc. It is a revolving door of those trained in orthodox neoliberal engineering, accounting and or economics and hold the view that markets (nee oligarchic corporations) shall decide whats best for Australian’s, who are treated as mere consumers and not citizens who wish to take control of their energy destiny.

    • Stephen Allen

      Here is a quote from the Australia Energy Market Commission consulation paper refered in the article.

      “A consultation paper on which submissions were sought considered that the take-up of DER would increase and that a register of DER may:
      • improve power system and network security – this is because expected take-up of DER by consumers will reduce the amount of generation over which the
      Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has visibility and control to
      operationally manage the power system.”

      The AEMC is fearful that with the increasing take up of decentralized renewable energy generation, the Commission will lose “control” of energy generation. This is ironic given that the NEM was established to extinguish the so called “command and control” approach of publicly owned energy systems. The number of controlling or regulatory authorities over energy in Australia far exceeds that which existed prior to the NEM. So much for the freedom of energy markets.

  • MaxG

    Just to indicate how pressing or acute this issue is: I have received an email today from Energex inviting me to register my battery for a $50 cash back if I do.
    As I said before, I won’t. Which should be pointless, as they already know, because I had to lodge an application when I did. But then, if there is ever coming something negative out of this, I will disconnect. If I hear about regulation that makes disconnecting difficult, I will disconnect. Is it only me seeing fascism crawling in…?