Renewables for industryProject REALM: Renewable Energy and Load Management
The Renewable Energy and Load Management (REALM) project is a feasibility study to assess the capacity of customers to develop load flexibility in combination with renewable energy: how can electricity customers optimise and integrate variable renewable energy, battery and thermal storage, demand-controls and energy efficiency to create low-cost demand-side flexibility.
Renewable energy, especially rooftop solar, is now significantly cheaper than grid electricity for the business peak period. However, as solar PV is a daytime-only electricity source, there are still many types of loads and business operations which cannot take advantage of the cheaper power.
Load Management is a means of identifying and shifting electrical loads to reduce power bills – making more use of solar PV generation on-site, flattening demand peaks to avoid network charges and taking advantage of lower off-peak rates.
Traditionally, the energy system has treated consumer demand as ‘fixed’ and used centralised supply options to manage variable demand. Now, better data systems and emerging onsite storage and generation technologies can combine with advanced, automated demand control software to pro-actively manage demand and respond to energy market prices. New technologies enable energy to be stored and used at different times without adversely affecting operations, opening up opportunities for businesses to save money or earn energy market revenue.
The proportion of variable renewable electricity generation in the Australia is rising quickly and this transition is likely to accelerate. Accordingly, energy market regulators are currently implementing or considering reforms to increase flexible capacity to accommodate the growth of variable renewable energy. Large-scale flexible resources include gas-fired generators, pumped hydro storage and grid-scale batteries. However, it is important that Australia develop a portfolio of capacity resources which includes demand-side flexibility as current evidence suggests it is often likely to be cheaper than large-scale, centralised options.