The plans of United Energy and Melbourne smart energy start-up GreenSync to leverage community solar, battery storage and demand management technologies to address problems of network constraint on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is expected to defer around $30 million in avoided network investment.
But what will it mean for the households and businesses involved? What are the benefits to the community and consumers in general? What even is demand response? And does it mean forfeiting control of the air-con, just when we need it most?
The project will start at a pilot scale at first, kicking off this summer with the installation of two battery systems to be coupled with solar PV at community centres, and up to 250 Demand Response Enabled Device (DRED) control units in households across the Peninsula.
For the participating households, the installation of DRED units – or GreenSync’s PeakResponse Units – will mostly mean that their air conditioners, switched on by the thousands during the peak holiday season, can have their power remotely optimised or their use sequenced to lower peak demand when the grid is under stress.
But as GreenSync managing director and co-founder Phil Blythe is keen to point out, the goal is for this to be done without reducing comfort – and mostly without anyone even noticing.
“Most consumers won’t even notice the difference, except for the very rare occasion where they may be on the verge of a blackout,” he told One Step on Tuesday.
At those times, “it’s either the whole system goes down, or we just start adjusting your air conditioner,” he said.
“The community spirit now in Australia around mobilising, or doing anything around distributed energy, is really strong,” Blythe said.
“It doesn’t take much of a push for people to say ‘hey yeah that’s a great idea, we want to participate’. If the community feels they’re part of actually solving a problem, they’re very much willing to participate.”
© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd