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New energy rules to clear the way for more battery and solar power

By Cole Latimer / The Sydney Morning Herald / 26 July 2018

The energy market rule maker is developing new reforms designed to allow more Australians to sell their solar power into the grid.

The Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce said a number of changes have been proposed to reform the way the grid generates and consumes electricity which will remove the barriers ordinary Australians face in selling their power into the grid.

The AEMC’s new rules are designed to update the existing regulatory frameworks, focusing on reliability and security of supply, how the poles and wires transmit electricity, and in ‘decentralising’ from a few large power stations to a mass of smaller generators such as wind farms and rooftop solar and battery installations.

“Because of the technology revolution, families and businesses are not just electricity consumers, they can also be power producers,” the AEMC said.

“Expanding large-scale and roof-top renewable generation and storage is an opportunity. It also means we must change how we manage the system to keep it working well.

“We’re now at the point where we need to trade-off the costs required to build a more secure system and deliver the reliability people want as the energy sector transforms.”

It said the proposed reforms would encourage the adoption of new technologies, such as solar, batteries and electric vehicles, and provide more clarity on the power can be used and consumed.

These new rules will also allow for more batteries as part of the country’s future grid.

One of the problems batteries face in the current network is that they provide backup power faster than the system can register. They can respond in less than 200 milliseconds, whereas the fastest the network registers new energy is in six seconds.

Tesla, which operates the world’s largest single lithium-ion battery installation in South Australia, said it has been shortchanged for 30 to 40 per cent of the energy it has provided into the network because it provides power too quickly.

The new rules would allow for a fast frequency response, which means more household batteries could provide this quick power into the system, and be paid for it.

Mr Pierce said these proposed new rules will help clear the way for more Australian households to become active participants in the national energy market, through their own solar rooftop and battery installations.

“We’ve proposed some new rules and mechanisms for adoption right now and added more flexibility into system frameworks so they can keep evolving in response to changes in technology and the economics of a reliable and secure power system,” Mr Pierce said.

“We recognise the need to take evidence from trials currently underway. We will also continue to adapt the regulatory framework to the sector’s experience and growing knowledge about innovations like demand management options or the ability of virtual power plants to improve the stability of electricity supply.”


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