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Outlining the vision of a distributed energy resources future

A new CEC report – The Distributed Energy Resources Revolution: A Roadmap for Australia’s Enormous Rooftop Solar and Battery Potential – outlines the opportunities and challenges involved in the integration of rooftop solar and battery storage to support a cleaner, smarter grid.

With more than 2.1 million solar homes, Australia has the highest penetration of residential rooftop solar in the world. This strong solar uptake – along with the growing household battery storage and electric vehicle markets – presents us with a unique opportunity to revolutionise the Australian energy landscape by utilising the significant advantages offered by greater distributed energy resources (DER) integration.

DER is the collective term for technologies such as rooftop solar, household batteries and electric vehicles. In the past, these technologies have largely been seen as independent consumer products. However, technology improvements mean that they are increasingly being imbued with advanced communications, cybersecurity and market interface capabilities that allow them to be integrated and provide services beyond simply capturing and storing the sun’s energy. In the future, DER will trade, support the grid and interact in a myriad of ways to improve the way that energy is distributed.

Under the current regime, it will be extremely challenging to integrate the large amounts of small-scale solar generation into the grid as electricity distribution networks were not originally designed for it. It is therefore imperative that we change the way that we manage solar and battery systems and how they interact with the grid. This will require new rules to mandate technological capability and new markets to make best use of the capabilities already at our disposal.

These new rules and markets will help to monetise DER by creating markets for grid support, optimise the system by introducing incentives to avoid unnecessary investment and dynamically balance networks to support supply from millions of variable energy systems. While the complexity of this transition cannot be underestimated, the benefits for Australian consumers and the security and reliability of the Australian energy system are immeasurable.

The CEC’s new report The Distributed Energy Resources Revolution: A Roadmap for Australia’s Enormous Rooftop Solar and Battery Potential is now available for download. The report provides a comprehensive vision for bringing intelligence to rooftop solar and storage, and includes 16 recommendations for how distribution network service providers, regulators, governments and policy makers can begin the transition to a DER future.