Right now, technology is disrupting and democratizing the energy market. It is technology that mitigates, if not eliminates the risk and fear of increasing the cost burden on those who can’t afford, or don’t adopt distributed renewable energy.
Virtual Power Plants
Virtual power plants (VPP) link distributed energy resources (often solar and batteries) under a control system that allows the amalgamated system to act like a single power station. A microgrid becomes a virtual power plant when owners start to sell services such as demand response or frequency control (e.g. ramping up and down power production and power consumption on short notice for frequency control).
Currently eastern states utilities AGL, United Energy and Energy Australia; and New Zealand electricity generator and retailer Contact Energy are running VPPs using technology from Sunverge and Australian start-ups Reposit, GreenSync and Redback Technologies. These VPPs vary in size from 25 homes in Wellington to a 1,000 home (5 MW) VPP in Adelaide.
The AGL VPP roll out is currently paused while the proponents consider new battery storage hardware.
Peer to Peer Trading
Western Australian start-up PowerLedger has had success with its technology that enables peer to peer trading of electricity. This technology allows individual installations of solar and storage to sell their power to neighbours. Local deployment of this technology has occurred at Busselton National Lifestyle Village and a White Gum Valley housing development in Fremantle.
PowerLedger utilises blockchain technology for efficient peer to peer trading by removing third party transaction intermediaries. Blockchain also provides the basis for applications such as:
- Distributed market management
- Asset management
- Transmission exchange
- Carbon trading
Blockchain however has numerous regulatory hurdles to surpass.
PAE is in regular dialogue with technology providers as well as committed to our own R&D that will expedite the application of these technologies for our customers. This effort will fast track the transition to a distributed energy market – indeed it is happening now. We’ll be sharing these in the Energy Edge in coming months.