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In conjunction with a number of WA business customers, Western Power has launched a flexible energy services trial to assess ways to accommodate the growing amounts of rooftop solar into the electricity network. 

The Flexibility Services Pilot aims to learn how commercial and industrial businesses with large distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar PV and batteries, and manageable loads like heating and cooling systems, can be enabled to manage their generated load for a financial incentive.

Western Power Head of Change and Innovation, Tracy Deveugle-Frink, said similar trials in the United Kingdom and the US successfully moved the load-generation mix, helping support network stability and the continued uptake of renewables.

“This is an exciting and collaborative approach with businesses and communities to see how they can gain better value from their energy investments such as rooftop solar and batteries while helping balance load on the South West Interconnected System,” Ms Deveugle-Frink said.

“The pilot is part of our drive to innovate the energy landscape in WA and make sure businesses and homes can continue to access renewable energy, providing a greener energy future and sustainable energy supply for all customers.”

As part of the trial, participating businesses will be asked to modify their energy use and generation between 10am and 2pm on specific weekends in spring 2020 and autumn 2021.

While WA has very low energy demand and high solar generation in mild, sunny weather, the reduced need for heaters, air-conditioners and pool pumps leads to a ‘renewables peak’, where excess solar generation pushes power into the grid.

Western Power’s grid was originally envisioned as a one-way power flow network – from generators to customers. 

With today’s two-way flow of power into the grid from rooftop solar and batteries, Western Power said it is continuing to innovate to manage network needs effectively.

The Flexibility Services Pilot is one of those potential solutions that will enable a smoother transition of renewables into the grid.

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