AEMC opens consultation on registry for distributed solar+storage

Residential and C&I solar PV is profoundly impacting Australian electricity networks. With distributed battery storage installation now surging in Australia, the picture is becoming increasingly complicated for market and network regulators and administrators.

AEMC is looking to develop a deeper understanding of just how and where this transformation is taking place, through establishing a registry of distributed storage and rooftop solar systems. The creation of such a registry has been proposed both by the COAG Energy Council and “builds on” a recommendation of the Finkel Review.

The information gathered in such a registry would allow for more accurate forecasts “of consumer demand to help guide longer term network investment” – AEMC said in a statement today.

AEMC has published a consultation paper on the proposal for a registry. It is also providing a template for consultation questions.

The profound impacts of rooftop solar on electricity markets and grids during Australia’s summer demand peaks has become increasingly clear in recent weeks.

AEMO released data last week that showed that rooftop PV shaved some 400 – 500 MW off peak electricity demand during the extreme ‘heat event’ in the state in early February. Energy Synapse charts, published last week, also showed how the infamous ‘duck curve’ demand pattern is becoming clearly evident in South Australia – with the daytime demand dipping below the troughs in the middle of the night.

AEMC has particularly highlighted the acceleration in distributed battery installations in its call for submissions today. It refers to a projection that 100,000 battery systems could be installed by 2020, and as many as one million by 2030.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme already generates nationwide data on small-scale PV system installations. However, there is no obligation to report battery storage installations, resulting in a wide range of reported installation figures.

While rooftop PV is impacting electricity demand around the country, widespread battery deployment could deliver a range of supplementary benefits for grid operators, and is likely of interest to AEMO. Indeed, the pooling of distributed battery systems for the provision of grid services such as frequency regulation can be an important revenue stream for battery owners – impacting payback times for the systems, as noted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis.

AEMC is calling for submissions into the formation of registry by April 17 2018. It will hold a stakeholder workshop on the proposal on March 27 at its Sydney offices.