On behalf of the Australian government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $9.6 million in funding to 12 projects and studies to further integrate distributed energy resources (DER) into the electricity system.
DER encompasses behind-the-meter technologies such as rooftop solar PV, battery storage, electric vehicle charging points and smart appliance systems such as fridges, air conditioning systems, hot water heaters and pool pumps.
The Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap, a joint publication by Energy Networks Australia and the CSIRO, predicts that over 40 per cent of energy customers will use DER by 2027. By 2050, that figure is expected to grow to more than 60 per cent.
Through ARENA, $7.2 million will be allocated to five DER pilot projects led by Zeppelin Bend, Jemena Electricity Networks (VIC) Ltd, SA Power Networks, Solar Analytics and RACV. These projects will trial new approaches to increase the capacity of networks to host DER, whilst also ensuring that systems still operate securely.
An additional seven studies led by CitiPower and Powercor, Dynamic Limits Pty Ltd, University of Tasmania, CSIRO, Oakley Greenwood Pty Ltd, the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne will receive $2.38 million to investigate how to effectively integrate high levels of DER.
These studies will assist networks, retailers, government and system operators understand more about the technical and commercial challenges of managing a grid with a high penetration of DER.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said these 12 projects and studies will help to maximise the potential benefits of DER technologies owned by households and businesses.
“Rooftop solar, batteries and other customer-related energy technologies are set to play a key role in shaping the future energy system. It is projected that up to half of all electricity could be generated by consumers within the next few decades, up from around 4 per cent today. This is a huge change and will require innovations in software, hardware and thinking to achieve the best outcome for consumers,” he said.
“ARENA is extremely excited to be funding some of the best experts in the energy sector to build network hosting capacity technology and further understand the impacts of DER and to identify, and ultimately solve, the technical limits of our electricity grid,” Mr Miller added.