Flexibility services trial launched in Western Australia

State utility Western Power has launched a one-year pilot to test flexibility from distributed energy resources with business customers.

The Flexibility Services Pilot aims to learn how commercial and industrial businesses with distributed resources such as solar PV and batteries and manageable loads like heating and cooling systems can be enabled to manage their generated load for a financial incentive.

The pilot is designed to enable businesses to determine the best way to productively manage their energy in order to suit their needs and operations. As part of the project, participating businesses will be asked to modify their energy use and generation over the four midday hours on specific weekends in Spring 2020 and Autumn 2021.

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“Similar trials in the UK and the US successfully moved the load-generation mix, helping support network stability and the continued uptake of renewables,” said Tracy Deveugle-Frink, Western Power head of change and innovation in a statement. “This is an exciting and collaborative approach with businesses and communities to see how they can gain better value from their energy investments such as rooftop solar and batteries while helping balance load on the South West Interconnected System.”

Western Australia has low energy demand and high solar generation in mild, sunny weather, but the reduced need for heaters, air conditioners and pool pumps leads to a ‘renewables peak’, where excess solar generation pushes power into the grid.

The Flexibility Services Pilot, aka the 100MW Challenge to deliver 100MW of flexibility to the grid, is one of a number of tools being implemented to enable a smoother transition of renewables into the grid.

The initiative forms part of the Western Australia government’s Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap released in April 2020. The roadmap sets out the steps to effectively integrate distributed resources into the regional power system over the next five years.

Schneider Electric is delivering the platform to manage the flexibility services, with features including participant portfolio management, user interfaces for programme partners and transaction management.