The AEMC have released a discussion paper that looks at how future changes in technology may affect the National Electricity Market and what they can do to prepare.

The discussion paper looked at whether existing regulatory frameworks are flexible enough to support the integration of storage technologies, or whether regulatory change is necessary.

The analysis was informed by collaboration with the CSIRO, who provided technical assessment of how different storage technologies could be utilised, as well as modelling the likely uptake rates across the NEM.

There are many different kinds of storage technologies and some have been utilised in Australia’s energy markets for decades. What’s new is that technological advances, particularly in battery storage, are making storage devices cheaper and more accessible to a wider range of households and businesses.

  • Around 1.4 million Australian households now have rooftop solar PV providing intermittent energy and distributed storage systems may offer significant benefits to consumers looking for more control of their energy use by matching their generation to their usage needs.
  • Large-scale storage systems may be used by network businesses to run their networks more efficiently, reducing congestion, smoothing network peaks, mitigating outages or providing network support in remote areas – all of which may reduce the need for spending on network infrastructure, potentially reducing network costs for everyone.
  • Storage systems connected to power stations could allow generators to better manage variations in wholesale prices between times of high and low demand, or better integrate variable generation resources like large-scale wind.

Consumer choices will continue to drive the level of storage take-up and competition between providers will keep costs as low as possible. Their preliminary analysis suggests that Australia’s energy market frameworks are robust to the penetration of storage technologies.

While their analysis found no significant impediments to the deployment of energy storage it does outline a range of improvements that may make installation of storage simpler and more efficient including:

  • Reviewing the connection and registration requirements of smaller generators to ensure they are not a potential barrier to storage installation
  • Clarifying requirements for aggregators to be able to offer ancillary services and whether new types of market support services should be developed to provide effective price signals for storage deployment
  • Reviewing the service classification process for distribution networks;
  • Assessing whether the regulatory planning time is long enough for consideration of storage investments by regulated providers;

The Commission welcomes submissions by 5 November 2015. They plan to publish a final report incorporating stakeholder feedback by the end of the year. 

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