Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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HomeIssue 47Grid stability service payments a multiple winner

Grid stability service payments a multiple winner

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Sir – With the government battery subsidy due to end on 30 November, grid stability service payments offer a win-win-win-win: for the battery owners, for the NT Government, for jobs and ultimately for the environment.

Grid stability service payments typically include payments to owners of batteries connected in a virtual power plant (VPP). They are sometimes on top of subsidies or rebates available for new batteries.

In Alice Springs, increasing supply of solar power into the grid is ironically hampering the Government’s efforts to reach its target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 because it increases grid instability.

Essentially a frequency imbalance of electricity supply and demand, this instability can cause power outages. Stability is currently provided by the so-called spinning reserve of the town’s large, greenhouse gas emitting diesel and gas generators.

But the very fast injection of power into the grid from the dirty spinning reserve can instead be provided by solar-powered batteries in a VPP and quickly accessed when needed for stability.

In this scenario, the battery owners are paid to keep and release a certain amount of the power in their batteries for this important purpose. In the Territory, this would be a payment from the NT Government.

The payment could significantly offset the cost of battery purchases, bringing more batteries charged by the sun into this stable system. It is a system operating already elsewhere in Australia, in South Australia for instance.

And one supported by Jacana Energy in its submission to the recent Review of Essential System Services in the NT’s Regulated Electricity Systems.

More batteries and thus more solar power carefully brought into the system would also be much helped by the NT Government retaining the Home and Business Battery Scheme (HBBS).

This is the $6,000 subsidy for battery purchases, due to end on 30 November. RePower Alice Springs urges the government to: retain the HBBS; re-instate the one for one feed in tariff for battery-supplied power; bring in grid stability service payments for household batteries in VPPs and for large utility/industrial scale battery owners; and fund the Power and Water Corporation the relatively minor amount to make the necessary upgrades to enable VPPs.

These are ways to not only harness much more of our incredible solar resource to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to store the solar power for strategic use, namely grid stability. In the bargain, households would be paid for providing this service and no doubt Territory jobs offered and advanced skills learnt in these technologies of the future.

This might just be a vote winner to boot.

RePower Alice Springs

Photo: BESS as part of Onslow Stage 2. Image courtesy of Horizon Power.

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