Friday, 24 February 2023

South Australian smart metering trial to increase grid security

The trial partners, PLUS ES, AGL, ARENA and UNSW, will share learnings with the market to increase the knowledge and capabilities of smart metering.

PLUS ES and AGL have today announced a project to test whether dynamically managing customers’ hot water systems through smart meters can support grid stability and lower energy costs for consumers. This demonstration will tackle the fast-emerging challenge of balancing supply from distributed generation and minimum demand periods, due to the increasing adoption of rooftop solar PV.

PLUS ES will build on its existing smart meter capability to allow AGL access to the technology that can control load Hot Water (HW) for optimal demand management. The program will allow AGL to manage spot market pricing to move up to ~48MW of residential demand across up to 20,000 AGL controlled-load customers in South Australia.

As the energy market shifts toward a net-zero emissions future, this flexible demand management capability will help maintain grid security while also providing a model for other DNSPs, States and Retailers on how to successfully shift significant hot water load to the benefit of the network, the market and end-customers.

The project, funded in part by ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program, will also be delivering the outcomes and learnings through the knowledge sharing partner UNSW.

PLUS ES Executive General Manager Jason Clark, said “Electric hot water systems are currently the largest and most predictable load of household electricity consumption, our smart meters are able to dynamically change the timing of the hot water load to soak up excess solar generation, support grid security and save customers money”.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project strongly aligns with ARENA’s flexible demand goals supporting Australia’s renewable energy transition.

“Hot water control has been identified as a low cost solution that could help to address minimum system demand issues across the NEM, highlighting that with the right innovation and technology solutions, we can reduce some of the need for costly network infrastructure upgrades.”

AGL Chief Customer Officer Jo Egan said the learnings from this project will help consumers, other retailers and the broader market understand more about the benefits of retailer-orchestrated DER.

“This project has tremendous opportunities for our customers, for AGL, and for PLUS ES’s smart meters across the market. As AGL dynamically manages hot water systems in South Australia for thousands of our customers, we will be taking advantage of high renewable energy generation available during the day, to test if this can help with grid stability and support a reduction in energy prices. This partnership with PLUS ES, which is supported by ARENA, aligns with AGL’s commitment to utilise our expertise, work with likeminded businesses and innovate to meet the changing needs of our customers, now and in the future. We are excited to apply the lessons learnt from South Australia to encourage similar programs across the other states for the benefit of our customers, other retailers and the market.”

SA Power Networks (SAPN) has over 300,000 off peak hot water storage loads equating to an estimated 1,080 MW of untapped DER load that could be utilised should the program be expanded state wide to view, control and shift hot water load to respond to market signals in real time.