01/12/2021 - 15:34

ARENA funding for Project Symphony

01/12/2021 - 15:34

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A Western Australian pilot project testing the performance of rooftop solar has been awarded $8.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA funding for Project Symphony
The project involves orchestrating more than 900 distributed energy resources across 500 households and businesses as a virtual power plant.

A Western Australian pilot project testing the performance of rooftop solar has been awarded $8.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The $35.5 million trial, named Project Symphony, will be undertaken over two years in partnership with Western Power, Synergy and the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The project involves orchestrating more than 900 distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar, battery storage and major appliances, across 500 households and businesses as a virtual power plant.

The aim of the project is to explore and better understand how the use of distributed energy resources can improve customer affordability, network security, reduce emissions and strengthen the economy and wholesale energy market.

Alongside ARENA’s contribution, the state government has invested $19.3 million, and the Australian Energy Market Operator has contributed $7.6 million.

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said Project Symphony aimed to adapt grid management to support greater uptake of rooftop solar, home batteries and other distributed energy resources.

“DER [distributed energy resources] presents an opportunity to increase consumer value and reduce costs for all consumers,” Mr Miller said.

“The rapid growth in DER uptake reflects households taking advantage of the rapid development of new technology to store and manage energy, bolstered by recent state government incentive packages.

“However, without appropriate coordination of DER, network operators may be required to curtail DER output to manage constraints.

“Project Symphony aims to address these issues and highlight the benefits that orchestration can provide to consumers and the energy system.”

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said virtual power plants could be the future for electricity in WA.

“We currently have power stations, at the edge of our networks, with lots of wires carrying high voltages hundreds of kilometres,” Mr Johnston said.

“But in the future, houses will become the power station through their rooftop solar.

“Project Symphony will test how increased access to renewables can benefit communities and is a major deliverable of the Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap.”

Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the project was important to help understand how rooftop solar and batteries could be centrally orchestrated to balance broad scale electricity supply.

“The uptake of solar energy is particularly strong in Western Australia where more than 1.8 gigawatts of small-scale solar have been installed by households and businesses, and where around one in three homes now have rooftop solar,” Mr Taylor said.

“As this continues to grow, it is crucial to understand how solar and batteries can work to lower costs for all electricity customers and strengthen electricity networks rather than detract from reliability.”

The state government first announced the project in February 2021.

Southern River, where almost 50 per cent of households have rooftop solar, will host the virtual power plant.  

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