Western Australia’s Project Symphony pilot shows customer DER will play an integral role in the energy transition

3 min

The final report for the innovative Project Symphony pilot involving hundreds of residential energy devices was released today – demonstrating that these devices can contribute to reliability and security in Western Australia's power system.

Project Symphony was an exciting and innovative pilot where Distributed Energy Resources (DER), also known as consumer energy resources, such as rooftop solar, batteries and major appliances were orchestrated as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to participate in a simulated energy market. 

The pilot was a collaboration between the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Western Power, Synergy and Energy Policy WA. Project Symphony also received support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

In undertaking the Project Symphony pilot, AEMO and its partners sought to understand how VPPs could unlock benefits for participating customers, and how they could then be scaled to achieve greater economic and environmental benefits for the Western Australian community.

“Through the recruitment of more than 500 residential electricity customers and their roughly 900 DER assets, Project Symphony demonstrated value can be derived from DER orchestration in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and that enabling DER aggregation is in the long-term interests of customers,” AEMO Executive General Manager of WA & Strategy Kate Ryan said.

“Collectively, rooftop solar is already the largest generator in the SWIS and is a key contributor in the state’s energy transition towards net-zero.

“When customer assets are aggregated and orchestrated, they can be used as a large, manageable and dependable power source. The integration of DER into electricity markets has the potential to unlock greater economic and environmental advantages for customers and the wider community.

“Through the Project Symphony pilot, we gained valuable insights into how DER can be coordinated and scaled-up for use in a future commercial environment, where customers can benefit,” Ms Ryan said. 
Some of the other key findings from Project Symphony were: 

  • Enabling participation of customers with standardised and VPP-ready DER assets, and increasing access to varied services, will be key to realising the opportunity that VPPs present for Western Australia. 
  • Incorporating VPPs in the market will reduce power system costs and help alleviate local network constraints, allowing cost reductions to be passed on to market participants and end-use customers.
  • Battery storage is a key value creating capability that is important to prioritise in VPPs.
  • Policy and regulatory changes are required to enable DER orchestration as part of VPPs and further scale and reduce barriers to entry. 
  • Valuable insights into customer awareness and expectations towards participating in a VPP. These insights will be central in developing engagement strategies for future VPPs.

The recommendations from the final Project Symphony report include a series of actions encompassing technology, customer, value and policy that can be delivered over the next four years and are expected to enable greater customer DER participation via VPPs in Western Australia. 

AEMO is committed to supporting delivery of the Western Australian Government’s DER Roadmap and looks forward to continuing to work closely with the government, Western Power, market participants and energy users to ensure the power system meets the needs of West Australians now and into the future.

The final Project Symphony report can be accessed on ARENA’s website

For more information:
WA Government Ministerial Media release


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