About the WA DER Program
AEMO’s WA DER Program will deliver the systems and processes to create the opportunity for all small scale ‘behind the meter’ devices, also known as Distributed Energy Resources (DER) – such as rooftop solar PV, batteries, EVs and controllable loads – to participate to provide services to the Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) whilst maintaining and supporting the security and reliability of the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).
Western Australia’s energy transition
Western Australia has one of the highest levels of installed roof top solar in the world with more than one in three households having roof top solar installed in the SWIS. During daylight hours, with clear sky conditions, combined roof top solar generation is often the largest generator with over 2 gigawatt (GW) of grid-connected roof top solar installed, exceeding the total capacity of the six largest generators across the SWIS.
While roof top solar presents new opportunities for transforming the grid into a lower carbon, decentralised, two-way power system, it also creates operational challenges such as minimum operational demand that may threaten the secure and reliable operation of the power system.
In April 2020, the WA Government published the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap which sets out key actions required over a five-year period to manage the energy transition as a major pillar in its Energy Transformation Strategy. The DER Roadmap outlines the path to transitioning to a future where DER is integral to a safe, reliable, and efficient electricity system, and where the full capabilities of DER can provide benefits and value to all customers. Delivering these actions requires a collaborative approach and AEMO is engaging with the WA government, Western Power, Synergy, other Market Participants and industry to implement our key priorities under the Roadmap.
AEMO’s WA DER Program is designed to manage all aspects of the integration of DER into the WEM and SWIS and coordinates the delivery of AEMO’s contribution to the DER Roadmap’s objectives.
Our vision is to enable DER and new technologies to be in integral part of the SWIS through the WEM by supporting security and reliability, as we move towards a 100% instantaneous renewable energy power system.
Our key WA DER Workstreams
WA’s largest customer DER pilot - Project Symphony - will orchestrate about 900 DER assets across 500 households and businesses into a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) totalling up to 9 MW of capacity.
Project Symphony will demonstrate the role and requirements for AEMO’s future distribution market operations on the WEM and SWIS through the implementation and piloting of platforms, systems and integration, whilst proving the capability of DER Aggregators to provide services to the WEM alongside the network. As a foundational project, Symphony will help inform regulation, policy decisions and market arrangements to support a highly distributed energy future.
The project is a collaboration between AEMO, Western Power, Synergy and the WA Government, and it has received support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of ARENA's Advanced Renewables Program.
AEMO is uplifting its foundational capabilities to be able to forecast, plan and operate a secure and reliable system with high levels of DER penetration. This workstream include developing and applying tools to better understand DER behaviour and applying outcomes to uplift system security parameters such as under-frequency load shedding, system restart and enhanced DER performance.
A critical aspect of this project is to better understand the risks of poor compliance rates for DER equipment DER Standards and Connections for AS/NZS4777.2, as poor compliance poses new and increasing risks to the power system that AEMO has to manage operationally (for example by failing to ride-through faults as expected). AEMO is also developing dynamic power system models to accurately model DER behaviour.
Another key aspect is implementing initial DER operations such as Emergency Solar Management following commencement of the scheme in February 2022. AEMO is working closely with its implementation partners (the WA Government, Western Power and Synergy) to increase the capacity of controllable devices that responds correctly when signalled to be managed and enhance the processes between the partners to manage this as efficiently as possible and only as a last report to keep the power system secure.
WA DER Register including the expansion to capture Electric Vehicles data
In April 2021, AEMO expanded its DER Register to include data for small generating units in the SWIS. The DER Register aims to establish a reliable data set – single source of truth – for all installed DER equipment across the SWIS. A high confidence data set for installed DER from a reliable source embedded in the connection process (such as network operators who are responsible for approving DER connections) is critical for AEMO to be able to better understand the operational characteristics of the power system, and to make efficient operational decisions.
AEMO is using DER data in its forecasting and planning processes and more accurate data on expected DER performance during power system events will help manage the market and system more efficiently. Visit the web page for the WA DER Register here.
In line with the WA Government’s EV Action Plan, AEMO has now commenced a project to expand the WA DER Register systems to enable the provision of data for electric vehicles. Unlike with roof top solar PV this action moves early in preparation for an anticipated rapid uptake of that technology over the coming years, enabling AEMO to forecasting and management of the system and market efficiently by considering the impacts on load from this DER equipment.
This work stream focuses on the regulatory and market development requirements to enable DER to participate in the WEM. It is evolving as learnings and findings are coming out of Project Symphony as well as the other work streams. It is also guided by Energy Policy WA and their ongoing work on the DER Roles and Responsibilities setting out the foundational requirements for the Distribution Market Operator (DMO), the Distribution System Operator (DSO) and the DER Aggregator.
In early January 2023, AEMO published the VPP Visibility Guideline following consultation with stakeholders. Over 2023 AEMO will be engaging with stakeholders to gain insights into DER operations across the SWIS.
Engaging with stakeholders
AEMO hosts the quarterly WA DER Market Participation Forum to share knowledge of the work being undertaken to deliver key actions from the DER Roadmap. We are using this forum and related email distribution list to enable effective consultation and information sharing with current and prospective market participants and other stakeholders impacted by DER integration.