GreenSync to create huge virtual power plant in Queensland

Bruce Thompson a the deX launch.
Bruce Thompson a the deX launch.

Business is ramping up for energy tech firm GreenSync, with a new partnership with Energy Queensland to create what is being called Australia’s largest “virtual power plant” (VPP), and the official industry reveal of its Decentralised Energy Exchange (deX) in Melbourne last week.

The VPP was officially launched last week by Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt, and will see Energy Queensland rolling out GreenSync’s peak response units across large energy users and industrial sites. The units allow for cloud-based control of plant such as large HVAC units or diesel generators to manage peak demand events such as temperature extremes.

“This virtual power plant system will have a positive impact on the affordability, reliability and sustainability of electricity supply during these severe events,” Mr Pitt said.

“This partnership creates a real view to putting downward pressure on the cost of electricity for customers, with a particular focus on helping businesses manage their input costs.”

He said the plant would also help to reduce market volatility and, ultimately, reduce energy prices.

GreenSync deX project director Bruce Thompson said the energy retailer already had one of the largest demand response programs in Australia. The new technology will enable it to better harness demand-side resources. It will also allow them to participate in deX when it rolls out in Queensland.

He said the units gave plants “a bit of a brain”. Because they can be installed alongside existing large equipment, they also have a low marginal cost while unlocking a “large amount of value” for both the plant owner and the grid operator.

The peak response units are currently manufactured in Melbourne, however the new partnership also includes licensing a regional Queensland-based manufacturing operation.

Mr Pitt said up to 10 roles would be created in Townsville as part of the initiative.

“The deployment of this technology over the coming months and years is also going to require a significant workforce for installation with the majority of work being completed by local, regional small businesses and Energy Queensland’s internal labour force where applicable.”

Energy Queensland executive general manager for Energy Services Charles Rattray said the long-term partnership between Energy Queensland and GreenSync would allow the division to innovate and deliver the best possible solutions for customers.

“Energy Queensland’s Energy Services division was launched to lead new technology deployment to focus on putting downward pressure on costs for customers, improving security of supply and facilitating the uptake of renewable energy sources,” he said.

Mr Rattray said customers were being enrolled into the VPP platform ahead of peak summer demand.

“This innovative approach will also increase network resilience through increased automation and speed of response, grouping assets as portfolios to react to challenges and seize opportunities,” he said.

GreenSync chief executive Phil Blythe said it was great to see Energy Queensland looking to technology to create innovative solutions for distributed energy across Queensland.

“This is a significant project for the people of Queensland and we’re thrilled to be working with Energy Services,” Dr Blythe said.

“With the rise of solar and battery storage, this partnership is going to better harness distributed energy resources and deliver increased befits for the community and the grid as a whole.”

Melbourne’s deX launch shows huge industry interest

The Melbourne deX launch saw more than 150 people from across government, business and the energy sector gather for the reveal of the roadmap for the platform’s activation.

The deX platform is an open exchange where energy capacity, including distributed energy resources, can be sold between businesses, households, communities and utilities.

Currently, the first stages are being implemented on the Mornington Peninsula.

Mr Thompson said 15 large food and wine operations and a water utility had already become partners in the Mornington project. The next stage will be a community awareness campaign to grow interest over summer and working with technology vendors and retail customers to start signing up households.

The initiative has attracted 37 industry partners including energy retailers, utility networks, technology providers, industry associations, researchers and government.

“This is the first time that industry has come together in this way,” Dr Blythe said.

“This is an opportunity born from our current energy crisis. deX provides a framework to increase customer value, improve system reliability and manage the transition to a renewable energy future.”

The first release of the full platform is set for early 2018.

An API protocol will be released that allows open access for a range of technologies to plug into the deX platform. The deX initiative will work with Energy Networks Australia and other industry organisations including the Clean Energy Council on the development of national connection standards.

deX Vision will enable network utilities to see assets as they come online, allowing for better coordination as distributed energy resource (DER) penetration increases. It will also allow the location, capability, capacity, availability and the context of DERs to be visible to the marketplace.

deX Markets will allow electricity retailers and emerging energy service providers to buy and sell services from consumers and aggregate value for wholesale markets and allow infrastructure operators to procure services for system reliability and security.

ARENA provided funding towards the initiative in February 2017 following its initial development through the agency’s A-Lab grid integration innovation lab.

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