Load shedding in Victoria and South Australia during January 2019 provided an opportunity to understand how effective demand management can help to reduce stress on our energy system.
Over summer, the grid was put under extreme strain as heatwave temperatures and off-line thermal generators caused energy demand to grossly outstrip available supply. These conditions forced wholesale energy prices through the roof; a timely reminder that the supply and demand relationship in the National Electricity Market (NEM) is finely balanced.
As strain on the grid continues to rise, it highlights that our existing infrastructure and ways of thinking need to evolve to ensure greater reliability, affordability and sustainability for all.
The period during January – a busy one for AEMO, GreenSync and our utility partners – was also a reminder that innovative approaches to managing demand are being explored and successfully implemented by some of Australia’s distribution networks.
So, what happened on Jan 25th?
The culmination of extreme temperatures and significant energy supply shortages led to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ordering networks across Victoria to reduce demand in their respective jurisdictions. This is known as load shedding – the last option to keep the electricity grid safe and secure.
When this scenario occurs, networks are legally required to curb demand, ideally through voltage control, demand response or a combination of both, as these strategies help to keep the lights on for customers. In some instances when demand significantly outstrips supply, networks apply rolling blackouts in an attempt to lessen the impact on individual households and businesses, at the same time protecting areas of the grid where essential services, such as hospitals, are located.
How did GreenSync utility partners respond?
Two of GreenSync’s utility partners – Jemena (VIC) and Simply Energy (SA) responded to the energy market conditions during the heatwave, providing much needed support and capacity during this critical time.
Above image: Flemington Race Course
Jemena best practice planning ensures system security and reliability.
Jemena Electricity Network is an 11,000km system delivering electricity to more than 343,000 homes and businesses in north-west Melbourne. Of this, Jemena has a number of urban substations that require ongoing maintenance and upgrades.
Using demand response as an insurance policy.
In preparation for summer, as part of its regular maintenance program, Jemena identified the opportunity for a series of improvements at the Flemington Zone Substation.
A key consideration for Jemena prior to embarking on this upgrade was how to mitigate risk and ensure the network had back up generation in times of need. As part of its regulator approved investment program Jemena devised an insurance policy – a traditional demand response program with GreenSync.
GreenSync deployed its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) software to monitor energy traffic and to notify when the local distribution system might be approaching certain thresholds. The program guarantees 2 MW of capacity that can be called on in times of peak demand.
GreenSync software in action.
Jemena’s best-practice planning put the network operator in good stead to cope with the heat on the days leading up to Friday 25th.
Just after 1:30 pm on Friday 25th, in response to AEMO’s request to the networks across Victoria to load shed, Jemena deployed its demand response program to support the grid. Allied Mills curtailed its operating load through a pre-organised rescheduling process, while Flemington Race Course provided additional capacity from their back-up generators.
Image above: Load shed at Flemington Race Course at 1:30pm 25th of Feb
Giving back sees participating businesses rewarded.
This event, running for just under three hours, helped Jemena keep the lights on for hundreds of local residents in its network. Allied Mills and Victorian Race Club were both financially rewarded for their contribution during the state of Victoria’s time of need.
Above image: Adelaide, the location of Simply Energy’s VPP.
Simply Energy’s up to 6 MW virtual power plant.
The $23 million project with Simply Energy, South Australian Power Networks (SAPN), and deX (powered by GreenSync) will establish up to 8 MW virtual power plant (VPP) for South Australia. The project sees the delivery of home batteries to up to 1200 Adelaide households representing up to 6 MW of residential energy storage. This activity received funding from ARENA as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Programme and results in customers receiving heavily subsidised home batteries.
Battery storage power dispatched through deX.
Using GreenSync VPP software, and Simply Energy’s wider set of analysis tools, Simply Energy made the decision to road test its dispatch activity in the lead up to the Friday 25th heatwave. To do this Simply Energy pre-charged a portion of its fleet of batteries in the morning in preparation for the events to come. At the time when demand was high, Simply Energy then dispatched the power in those batteries to contribute to the strained grid.