AEMC Wants Your Solar Power And Battery System Information

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) wants to establish a national register of small-scale distributed energy resources –  including battery storage and rooftop solar power systems.

The AEMC is the energy policy adviser to Australian governments, consulting on, devising and revising energy rules.

Faced with the prospect of a predicted 100,000 batteries being installed across Australia by 2020 and possibly one million by 2030 – and not knowing where most of these are installed – the AEMC is understandably getting a little edgy about the situation.

The pursuit of a register evolved from the COAG Energy Council submitting a rule change request to the AEMC to enable such a database to be developed, the outcome of a process that began back in 2016. The general idea of a register was also floated in the Finkel Review.

“The proposed register would give AEMO and distribution network businesses more data to help keep the power system secure and safe,” says the Commission. “It would also enable more accurate forecasting of consumer demand to help guide longer term decisions on network investment.”

Information on <100kW solar power system installations is already pretty easy to find. For example, Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator keeps tabs on all systems installed that attract Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which form the basis of Australia’s major solar subsidy.

Solar battery system installation information is a little more fractured. While the Clean Energy Regulator has been collecting information on concurrent solar and storage installations since 2014, it doesn’t keep tabs on battery retrofits as these don’t involve STC’s. That information is spread around Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs) – which also have detailed information on solar power systems.

The register is about getting all this info into one place and it’s envisioned it would be administered by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The register, what it would contain and how it would operate are by no means a done deal – it’s at the consultation stage and interested parties have been invited to provide feedback.

How Much Information Would Be Collected?

Some will view the register as a reasonable idea (perhaps aside from the $10.67 million price tag), others may feel it’s an invasion of privacy and a “big brother” type move.

Information in the register could include location at the National Metering Identifier (NMI) level (i.e. your address), installation date, capacity and technical characteristics of your system.

As to what can be done with this information, one of the suggestions that may cause concern is:

“allowing AEMO to share information in the register with appropriate parties, where there are recognised benefits for consumers in doing so.”

These “appropriate parties” could include (but not be confined to) electricity retailers. COAG also suggested this could include companies, “where data could promote innovation and make it easier to conduct DER product recall”.

The privacy aspect is certainly going to need a huge amount of work for it to pass the pub test. Privacy and security of data may well be the biggest issue the AEMC sees in feedback.

Not So Small-Scale

“Small-scale” may also apply to any solar installation below 5 MW capacity being considered for inclusion, as systems under this capacity are exempt from registering as generators in the National Electricity Market and therefore are somewhat flying under the  radar. This would include every commercial solar installation in the NEM.

If you’re interested in learning more and having your say, the consultation paper can be downloaded here (PDF). Submissions are due by 17 April 2018 – a template has been provided for those who wish to use it.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Warwick Sands says

    The IT professional in me says ‘great idea’ but the cynical me asks ‘how long before I start getting taxed/levied/charged’.

    Can’t have people using that big fusion reactor in the sky for free without skimming off some money for corporations and government.

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