A world-first Australian trial will help maximise the benefits of renewables by allowing households and businesses to trade grid services provided by their batteries and rooftop solar with local network operators.

The trial aims to make national electricity grids more reliable while increasing the competitiveness of renewable energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding GreenSync to carry out the decentralised energy exchange (deX) project, which was developed through ARENA’s ‘A-Lab’ initiative.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said funding projects like deX was delivering ARENA’s goal of accelerating Australia’s shift to renewable energy.

“To smoothly transition to a renewable energy future, we need new technologies and markets,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“In a win for energy consumers, deX will enable owners of solar and batteries to earn extra money for helping to keep the lights on by participating in the sizeable grid services market.”

Mr Frischknecht said Australia had world-leading levels of rooftop solar, however, there was currently no marketplace for consumers to access the full value of these systems.

“deX is a software-based marketplace that will for the first time allow households and businesses to trade the grid services their batteries and rooftop solar can provide with their local network operators.

“This could encourage more investment in solar and batteries, supporting the grid, reducing the need for infrastructure investment and ultimately reducing the cost of renewables in Australia.”

GreenSync is developing deX with open-source software and drawing on the capabilities of leading technology businesses, energy start-ups and electricity market participants.

The trial could bring grid support trading into everyday utility operations and reduce the cost of these services. ARENA is providing $450,000 funding to support the $930,200 project.

Mr Frischknecht said the project showed how ARENA’s A-Lab innovation sandbox could develop new ideas into fully fledged, funded projects.

“ARENA is building on Australia’s rich history of invention by helping local companies develop world-leading renewable energy solutions,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“deX was formed in A-Lab’s inaugural session in April 2016 and further developed in an intensive two-day workshop in July 2016.

“The A-Lab multi-stage innovation process is designed to operate in rapid cycles of ‘ideate, incubate and accelerate’. This unique approach seeks to foster breakthrough thinking on complex challenges facing the electricity sector.”

Dr Phil Blythe, Founder and CEO of GreenSync, said the global energy industry was currently undergoing a major transition and the launch of deX was key to enabling the shift towards a decentralised energy system.

“Reliability of the energy system and delivering new value streams to consumers are key priorities driving deX. Homes and businesses will be able to monetise their solar and storage assets by essentially renting them to the grid when they’re most needed.

“deX will revolutionise peak electricity management and drive more effective investment in energy infrastructure,” Mr Blythe said.

A range of industry partners are participating in the Green Sync project including Reposit Power, Mojo Power, United Energy, ActewAGL, Australian National University, and the ACT Government. The pilot will initially be carried out in the ACT and Victoria.

ActewAGL will be piloting deX with batteries deployed in the ACT Government’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program.

The trial will demonstrate how market-integrated batteries can address grid constraints on segments of the network with very high levels of solar PV.

United Energy will be piloting deX in the lower Mornington Peninsula, which is forecast to experience network constraints caused by peak summer demand.

Josh Frydenberg, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy, said, “This project is an important initiative to create a two-way interface between energy consumers and local network operators.

“It provides a platform for rooftop solar and battery owners to trade with the grid.

“This holds the potential to deliver on the Government’s commitment to increasing the reliability of Australia’s energy system, whilst supporting a more effective and cost competitive roll out of renewable energy to households.”

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said “deX will help us understand how distributed energy services like solar and battery storage can be valued, reflecting when and where the service is provided, and how that value can be shared fairly between customers and network businesses.

“This knowledge will inform our transition to a high-penetration renewables grid, both in Canberra and nationally.”

Greg Hannan, Head of Strategy at United Energy said, “The deX exchange is a step toward localised or ‘mini-markets’ on the grid that will optimise value for all parties and allow networks to integrate renewables and manage the reliability and stability.

“This is key to creating value for energy customers in the grid of the future.”

James Myatt, CEO of Mojo Power, said, “The deX exchange will allow households to create additional value for having solar and battery assets installed in their homes to access incentives for providing network support during times of peak demand.

“This further increases the value of investment in solar PV, energy efficiency and energy storage.” 

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