AEMO gets green light to set up distributed solar+storage register

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The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) said on Thursday it had made a final rule for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to establish a register of distributed energy resources, including small scale batteries and rooftop solar.

The register is touted as a game changer for the AEMO to keep the power system secure and safe by recruiting distributed resources that could help manage the grid. 

While the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme already generates nationwide data on small-scale PV system installations, the uptake of home batteries has been difficult to keep track of, because these systems have not been incentivized. 

Although this is now slightly changing with the the announcements of the $100 Home Battery Scheme in South Australia and a potential $40 million scheme to subsidize the installation of battery storage in 10,000 homes in Victoria, there is still no official record of battery installs across Australia to date. 

According to the AEMC, the register will primarily be compiled using data collected by network businesses through existing processes. The final rule also allows AEMO to incorporate any other relevant data it receives, for instance from the Clean Energy Regulator or state safety regulators, where appropriate.

The creation of such registry has been proposed by the COAG Energy Council, while the idea was also floated in the Finkel Review.

Faced with the prospect of a predicted 100,000 batteries being installed across Australia by 2020 and possibly one million by 2030, the AEMC launched consultations on establishing the register in March.

Collecting information on distributed energy resources is also important against long-term forecasts of behind-the-meter uptake. In its 2018 New Energy Outlook, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Australia is said to have a remarkable penetration of decentralized systems, with rooftop PV and home batteries expected to account for 43% of all capacity in the country by mid-century.

AEMC says the new register must be in place by 1 December 2019.

Meanwhile, as part of the transitional provisions, which will commence on 18 September 2018, AEMO is required to make and publish the first information guidelines for the register by 1 June 2019.