The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Demonstration continues to show that consumer-owned energy resources can deliver essential system services, respond to energy market price signals, and deliver local network services.
In Australia, VPPs are typically focused on coordinating distributed energy resources (DER) like rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems, battery storage and controllable load devices, such as air-conditioners or pool pumps, through the market.
AEMO, with funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), initiated its VPP Demonstrations program in 2019, which included eight VPP portfolios with more than 7,150 consumers located in multiple states with varying DER technologies.
AEMO Manager DER Market Integration, Matt Armitage, said insights from the fourth knowledge sharing report further demonstrates that VPPs are contributing to a positive consumer experience and delivering in power system security services.
“Evidence indicates that household batteries are highly effective at providing contingency Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), with VPP’s supporting the power system during major contingency events in the National Electricity Market over the last two years,” he said.
“VPPs in the trial have continued to increase market share of contingency FCAS, reaching 3% of market share in April 2021, up from 0.6% in April 2020.
“Consistent with previous reports, VPPs are also highly capable of responding to energy market prices in real time and can deliver local network services, at times delivering more than one service simultaneously,” he said.
Further, the report found that the rapid growth of DER and their role in Australia’s energy system opens the door to new types of cyber security threats, which could ultimately pose a threat to power system security.
“It is imperative that DER devices and their interfaces are resilient to manipulation through their entire lifecycle,” said Matt.
The VPP trial has helped AEMO develop a deeper understanding of the future capabilities required to facilitate a secure and operable power system with high levels of DER, ultimately rewarding consumers.
To further understand the experience of consumers participating in VPPs and identify improvements for future success, AEMO engaged Customer Service Benchmarking Australia (CSBA) to conduct a consumer insights study with almost 2,000 consumers over a 12-month period.
“Consumers reported having a positive experience of early VPPs in Australia, with most being drawn to the scheme by the opportunity to save money and help the environment or community.
“The consumer experience is heavily influenced by the communication, transparency, and earning potential available to individual households, which VPP’s need to consider for future success.”
The VPP demonstrations are set to conclude following the final determination of the Market Ancillary Services Specification (MASS) consultation. AEMO has extended its MASS consultation to publish a further draft determination on 28 October and the final to be published in late December 2021 to incorporate more analysis and consultation.
Extensive and ongoing industry collaboration has been instrumental in developing a shared understanding of VPPs’ current capabilities, and continued collaboration is essential as VPPs scale – facilitating a secure and operable power system in a high DER future.