The resiliency and reliability of Australia’s energy supplies and networks was thrust firmly into the spotlight by September 2016’s statewide blackout in South Australia.

The blackout triggered a national debate about the use of renewable energy by the state as well as “a policy debate about the robustness of the electricity system,” the Grattan Institute recalls.

It also paved the way for “technologies and techniques needed to manage a grid with more wind and solar” to be deployed, the Institute says.

 


Since then, we have seen action on two key fronts: demand response, which relies on the collective action of consumers to reduce consumption and therefore pressure on networks; and the rise of virtual power plants (VPPs), which could one day rival the generation capabilities of traditional coal-fired plants.

“Approximately 50,000 residential batteries at an average size of 10KW/h are roughly the same kind of energy value at a short duration as a small coal-fired power station,” Evergen CEO and managing director Ben Hutt says.

“It is now more inevitable that coal-fired power stations will become defunct and our mission is to control and orchestrate enough distributed storage in 10 different markets that we can effectively replace the capacity of a coal-fired power station in each market by 2023.”

 


There are a number of demonstrations, pilots and production deployments of both demand response and VPPs in motion, many supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

AGL is a player in both spaces, with cloud-based systems and IoT sensors forming key parts of its architectural approach.

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