Decentralised energy trading

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Australia’s energy sector faces specific challenges as it seeks to transition to a low carbon system. In addition to those common in many countries – including electricity shortages, widespread outages and ageing infrastructure – some additional climate-induced challenges have spurred the growth in frequency of destructive bushfires and more extreme storms.

This article was originally published in The Global Power & Energy Elites 2021.

The government of South Australia had to act quickly after a catastrophic ‘once in 50 years’ weather event resulted in a state-wide electricity blackout in 2016. The outcome was a range of projects to address urgent system security, reliability and price risks for energy customers, while also enabling increased renewable energy on the network.

In recent years, these projects have evolved into a complex programme of works spanning a range of interventions in the state’s energy infrastructure to improve energy security and grid strength. Among these is a world-first 100MW storage battery, government electricity supply procurement, a renewable technology fund to catalyse private sector investment in new renewables, a grid-scale storage fund to address emerging network challenges through storage technologies, a home battery scheme promoting the uptake of residential battery storage and virtual power plant implementation.

With these initiatives comes a lot of complexity, which needs to be fed into future energy strategy and plans to more actively manage sector risks, whether these are associated with decreasing reliability of supply, increasing energy costs or perceptions about energy and carbon footprint. International engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon has been engaged on a number of these projects as specialist and technical adviser, providing a range of support including commercial advice, procurement strategy development, technical specification preparation and programme management.

Some of the key projects show how innovation and a user-centric design approach can lower emissions and exploit new technologies in the energy sector. The 100MW/129MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve battery at the Hornsdale Wind Farm is unique not only because it is the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system or because it was conceived and constructed in record-breaking time: The system addresses specific technical and market needs in South Australia’s network, providing a targeted contribution to the state’s objective of ensuring reliable, affordable and clean power for its consumers.

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