SA announces smart residential energy trial

Tuesday, 07 May, 2024

SA announces smart residential energy trial

An upcoming smart energy trial in South Australia aims to explore how households can benefit from flexible energy demand in a market that’s saturated in renewables.

The ‘Energy Masters’ trial is a collaboration between the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the South Australian Government, electricity distributor SA Power Networks and various other partners. ARENA has contributed $6.2 million to the project on behalf of the Australian Government.

The $13.8 million project involves SA Power Networks installing consumer energy resources (CER) and smart energy appliances in 500 South Australian households, with energy use to be optimised by a home energy management system (HEMS).

The trial will demonstrate how residential CER and smart appliances can coordinate to better match energy use to supply and respond to market signals, shifting households’ energy use away from peak demand periods.

“South Australia has led the world in terms of variable renewable energy penetration, so it’s a perfect setting to trial how flexible energy use can complement a high share of renewable generation,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“We’re working with SA Power Networks and the South Australian Government to trial the coordination of CER in a real-world setting while unlocking value for participating households and look forward to seeing the outcomes of this trial and how its findings can be replicated across Australia.”

Households will receive subsidies to implement different levels of electrification within their homes, with devices including smart split-system air conditioners, heat pump hot water and smart EV chargers.

Recruitment and engagement of participating households will be led by the SA Government, which is providing higher subsidies for low-income and energy hardship households to take part in the trial.

Electricity retailers EnergyAustralia and Amber will develop tailored retail offers that leverage the benefits of retail and network flexibility, with the aim of maximising benefits for customers.

In return, households will participate in a research program led by RACE for 2030, which will help demonstrate the value of energy-smart households and provide information about device interoperability to inform the development of national standards.

The end game is to enable flexible demand at scale — something that is expected to play a significant role in helping to manage peak demand, avoid network augmentation costs and reduce costs for all consumers.

“The customer focus of the pilot is exciting,” said SA Power Networks CEO Andrew Bills. “We recognise the energy system is complex, so the pilot will seek to identify how we can overcome that for the benefit of customers in a way that will also enhance the way we manage our network.

“Much of the technology is available today, but we need to identify how we bring together government incentives, retail offers, energy-smart appliances and energy management systems in a way that is understandable and attractive for energy customers,” Bills said.

The South Australian trial builds on ARENA’s existing portfolio of residential energy projects including Project Edge in Melbourne and Western Australia’s Project Symphony.

Expressions of interest for Energy Masters will open in the second half of 2024, with the project due to run until 2027.

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