Who will manage and control rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles?

The quest has begun to devise the best possible system to fully “integrate” Australia’s growing amounts of rooftop solar and battery storage, and ultimately electric vehicles, into the country’s electricity grids.

The Australian Energy Market Operator and Energy Networks Australia said on Monday they were working with the CSIRO to model the division of distributed energy resource management between the grid operator and network owners.

The key challenges, according to AEMO and the networks, include knowing and monitoring what is installed; setting parameters for system limits (to be called operating envelopes); improving communications; and creating a market signal – all while keeping the best interests of consumers in mind.

And then there is the question of who gets to do all this, and how it is managed. After feedback on early proposals, a hybrid management model has been proposed.

This would see networks retaining the technical DSO functions – managing and communicating distribution network constraints (and hopefully moving to dynamic rather than just static constraints), while AEMO manages a market platform that optimises all DER bids for wholesale, Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), network services and other identified market services.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman describes it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for Australia to move to a two-way system for electricity production and distribution.“The world is looking to Australia as the leader in installing rooftop solar and batteries to incentivise and integrate these customer resources to benefit all,” she said in a statement.

“AEMO can see a future where consumers’ controllable devices will have a marketplace to supply not just energy, but system and network services that reduce overall energy costs and help maintain system security.”