Energy industry comes together for consumer renewables transition

It has been a bumper year for home-based power systems, with Australia passing 2.2 million rooftop solar installations, battery storage becoming popular, and a range of more affordable electric vehicles launching into the Australian market.

To aid this integration of cutting-edge, behind-the-meter devices into an electricity grid designed for large centralised power plants, ARENA CEO Darren Miller announced the formation of the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP for short) at the All Energy Conference in October 2018.

In its first year, the collaboration of government agencies, market authorities, industry and consumer associations has kicked off a range of initiatives to help create a stable, secure and affordable grid, even where a large proportion of electricity is generated behind-the-meter.

The group is tackling the big renewable energy issues, holding five events with leaders from across the energy industry to share lessons learnt about virtual power plant integration, address the regulatory frameworks for network businesses, and develop reforms addressing network access and pricing arrangements for behind-the-meter assets.

There have been early achievements. DEIP’s ‘New Energy Compact’ provides a set of principles to ensure reforms are fair and equitable, energy is secure and reliable, environmental impacts are minimised, and that customers are provided with choices and protections.

A working group has been set up to develop distributed energy communications protocols, so the growing number of rooftop solar systems, home batteries, electric vehicles and smart appliances will be able to communicate with the market and trade services securely.

While DEIP is making progress, there is a lot of work ahead. The 2020 program will be delivered across four work packages, which aim to improve the way consumers are charged for using the grid and find ways for different energy assets work together by exchanging data accurately, effectively, consistently and securely. Testing will be undertaken to understand how distributed energy resources (DER) can support the reliability and security of the grid, and the group will work together to efficiently integrate electric vehicles into the grid.

DER technologies are vast, yet intricate, and no one group has all the answers or can navigate a solution alone. Over the next year, this work will be coordinated by industry and consumer groups to position Australia as a leader in integrating these technologies.

Read more about DEIP, its achievements and upcoming work in the next year, or sign-up to receive updates about DEIP through ARENA’s Insights Newsletter.