The Western Australian Government has released a Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap, in an Australian first.

The five-year Roadmap includes a plan to better integrate DER, and was produced by the State Government’s Energy Transformation Taskforce.  

Western Australian Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “The McGowan Government is on the front foot, looking at how we can improve our power system and continue to make the most of solar energy. 

“The actions in the Roadmap will allow us to keep feeding more renewable energy into the grid for the benefit of all Western Australians. It is a robust plan for a brighter energy future.

“Building a responsive and resilient power system will allow us to successfully manage risks over time – COVID-19 is a timely reminder of the importance of this.”

Rooftop solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles and microgrids are transforming Western Australia’s electricity system. 

These small-scale devices present challenges and opportunities for the way we produce, manage and consume electricity in the state.

Almost one in three households in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) have rooftop solar, and this is expected to reach one in two over the next decade.

The Roadmap outlines the necessary actions that must be taken over the next five years, in order to meet these challenges and harness the potential for cleaner, more affordable energy.

Energy Transformation Taskforce chairperson, Stephen Edwell, said, “A major transformation of Western Australia’s electricity sector is underway. 

“Rooftop solar is a great source of power, but changes are needed to ensure that it helps, rather than hinders the operation of our energy supply system. 

“Households and businesses can help make the most of our abundant solar generation by moving some of their electricity use from the evening to the middle of the day.”

Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said the Roadmap was leading the charge on addressing DER integration issues.

“We are moving rapidly from a system dominated by a few large-scale thermal generators to one with more decentralised generation from millions of rooftops,” Mr Dillon said.

“The focus on tariff trials to encourage more efficient uses of electricity and grid-scale batteries to provide security for the Western Australian system are key steps to enable the energy transformation.

“Energy networks around the country are working to accommodate the massive rise in household solar and storage.

“This process will involve both new technology but also the need to provide clear incentives for customers to signal when energy use will be most efficient for the system.

“Being smarter about how customers are charged for their energy consumption will maximise the benefits from household solar and battery storage devices.”

Actions will include pilots to determine the best ways to overcome technical, regulatory and market barriers to integrate DER into the grid, including additional community batteries. 

Energy Policy WA, Western Power, Horizon Power, Synergy and the Australian Energy Market Operator are working together to implement this Roadmap. 

Alongside the delivery of the Roadmap, the state government is working with the energy sector to carefully monitor any impacts COVID-19 is having on the power system.

AEC welcomes roadmap as sensible strategy

The Australian Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, welcomed the release of Western Australia’s DER roadmap, saying it represents a sensible plan to harness the benefits of new power delivery technologies for all energy users.

“This work reflects the energy transition that is underway. A transition that sees electricity become more of a consumer good and customers increasingly in control of how they consume and source their energy,” Ms McNamara said.

“The Energy Council believes competition is the best enabler of innovative customer-centric products to optimise the use of distributed energy.”

Ms McNamara said that maximising value for all customers by sending appropriate and clear pricing signals would help drive further innovation and development of DER-related services. 

“Changes to the way we pay for electricity to reflect the costs and benefits of supplying it at different times will also encourage consumers to be more flexible and efficient with their energy use,” she said.

“While we have seen solar technology adopted nationally, there is no doubt that WA is now at the leading edge, boasting one in three households with solar on their rooftops. This roadmap is a timely response to the changes underway to ensure the power system can remain reliable and secure.”

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