The West Australian Labor government has shown it understands the challenges of transitioning to a grid dominated by renewable resources with the release of its Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, which endorses the rollout of battery storage and restructuring of tariffs to support clean energy generation.

The plan produced by the McGowan Government’s Energy Transformation Taskforce will accelerate the integration of distributed energy resources – solar and battery storage – into the South-West Interconnected System through a schedule of augmentation projects, upgrades and changes to existing rules.

Over the next five years the government aims to:

  • Support the integration of new technology by deploying network battery storage at the community level to manage high levels of PV, implement grid-support and system operations measures and upgrade inverter settings;
  • Change tariffs to encourage the shift of energy consumption to the middle of the day to make use of solar and “promote efficient investment”, and;
  • Encourage the participation of distributed energy resources (DER) by piloting a virtual power plant, encourage customers to participate in the market via aggregators and help renters access the benefits of DER.

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 government’s energy roadmap 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, called Powerbanks.

Batteries on the block

Community Powerbanks are a neighbourhood battery that allow customers to store excess solar electricity generated during the day and withdraw it at night or share it with their neighbours.

Networks can use community Powerbanks to manage the grid and reduce grid costs, with the expected result that electricity bills for all customers are reduced, even those who don’t own solar.

“This is the sort of energy policy all Australian energy customers need,” said the Clean Energy Council director of distributed energy Darren Gladman. “Australians love solar, and in coming years we expect rooftop solar to supply more than half of our electricity needs. All governments should follow WA’s lead by embracing the opportunities of solar and batteries.”

Communities in the towns of Canning Vale, Dunsborough, Ellenbrook, Kalgoorlie, Leda, Parmelia, Port Kennedy, Singleton, Two Rocks and Wanneroo will be the first to benefit, where community Powerbanks will be rolled out by the end of this year.

Rooftop solar supplies up to 45% of network electricity in the state, an output capacity three times the size of the largest coal-fired generator in Western Australia.

“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,” said West Australian Energy Minister Bill Johnston. “Building a responsive and resilient power system will allow us to successfully manage risks over time.”

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