Ten “demand response” pilot projects have been launched in three Australian states to secure ensure emergency power reserves are available for extreme peaks by 2020.
The AUD35.7 million ($28m) initiative will deliver 200 megawatts of capacity by 2020, with 143MW to be available for this upcoming summer, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
Demand response involves paying incentives for energy users to reduce power consumption, switch to backup generation or dispatch their energy storage for short periods when electricity reserves reach critically-low levels.
ARENA and AEMO said the “test-of-proof concepts” will be trialled in the states of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales (NSW) over a three-year period, to “free up temporary supply during extreme weather such as prolonged summer heat waves and unplanned outages”, ARENA and AEMO said.
ARENA has pledged AUD28.6m to fund set-up and operational costs for the pilots, with AUD7.2m matched by NSW for projects based in that state.
Firms who have won funding to implement the pilots include energy retailers such as Powershop, Energy Australia, Flow Power and AGL, energy networks firm United Energy, global demand response aggregators EnerNOC, smart thermostat developer Zen Ecosystems and the South Australia-based metal foundry Intercast & Forge.
All the pilots are expected to be up and running by December 2017. Major businesses such as cold storage and manufacturing plants and commercial buildings will take part in the trial— together with “tens of thousands of households” who are expected to volunteer “in exchange for incentives”, ARENA said. All those taking part will be given equipment to “remotely monitor and control their energy usage”. Equipment installed in homes will have “optional user overrides”.
ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the funding round had “well exceeded the 160MW initially hoped for, and cost less than expected”.
“Demand response will not only ease the strain on the electricity grid and prevent blackouts,” Frischknecht said. “These projects will also put money back into the pockets of Australian businesses and households, helping to reduce their energy costs and emissions.”