A quarter of standalone homes in the National Electricity Market have solar installations – that’s 1.7 million homes. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that by 2023, Australia will be the most decentralised power system in the world; while CSIRO and AEMO conservatively estimate (PDF) that by 2025, about 150,000 residential battery systems will be installed. That represents about 800 MW of capacity.
But how can orchestration help?
At a basic level, households with solar systems and batteries use them to supplement their own consumption – and the surplus energy they sell into the grid. This happens on an individual level, without orchestration, at an established price, otherwise known as a feed-in-tariff.
But if the dispatch of that power can be organised, it can be used by households and any excess provided to the grid when energy is in high demand and needed most. This is orchestration.
Orchestration to help with the peaks and troughs
Orchestration is important. The influx of utility, or large-scale, renewables combined with the rapid uptake of rooftop solar, has led to energy demand that is ‘peakier’.
This means a surplus of energy is generated during the day when there is a lot of wind and solar to carry load, followed by a sudden drop in supply when the sun goes down and everyone arrives home. This creates peaks and troughs in supply.
These peaks and troughs have prompted the need for ‘firming capacity’ or flexible energy supply that can be quickly activated to top-up supply when it’s needed.
When organised and consolidated, residential batteries could contribute to this flexible supply. And that’s exactly how orchestration projects like AGL’s Virtual Power Plant program, can contribute to grid and system security.