In December this year, AEMO will launch Australia’s first database of distributed energy resources (DER), known as the DER Register

The register is a foundational project within AEMO’s DER Program, working with industry bodies to build a flexible, two-way energy system to exchange value from consumer-owned DER devices, including a sophisticated electricity market to ‘buy and sell’ electricity and related energy services from consumers.

It may come as a surprise to some, but Australia leads the world in adopting DER, which presents exciting opportunities, along with challenges to current-day operations of the electricity grid, which was originally designed for one-way energy flow to the consumer.

In general, DERs are defined as consumer-owned devices, such as rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar systems and battery storage, which as individual units can generate or store electricity or have the ‘smarts’ to actively manage energy demand. The DER Register only applies to generation that receives an agreement for a connection from the local network, who will also provide advice on whether and how the data needs to be provided.

However, when aggregated and operating together at scale through micro-grids and virtual power plants, these devices have huge potential to exchange consumer value by contributing to a reliable and secure energy supply.

Following the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) amendment of the National Electricity Rules in late 2018 to establish a DER Register, AEMO has worked with stakeholders across the electricity sector to design the register, agree on the data and how it will be collected.

From 1 December 2019, network service providers (NSPs) are expected to provide mandated information on every small generating or battery system within 20 days of the system commissioning or activation, which will feed into AEMO's DER Register.

The register, with comprehensive DER data, will enable AEMO and networks to:

  • Forecast, plan and operate the grid more efficiently, ensuring the system and market can deliver energy at an efficient price for all customers
  • Be more prepared for major disruptions to the system, with a greater understanding of how DER assets will behave during these events
  • Prepare the grid for major innovations with DER such as virtual power plants, and enabling customers to consider and participate in new markets with their DER
  • Allow networks to make better informed decisions about network investment options in the future as demand changes and DER increases

Critical to this process are installers, who capture the data when the equipment is installed, either through existing processes via the DNSP systems, mobile applications installers already use, or straight into AEMO’s portal.

Additionally, the DER Register system is designed to draw information from available data sets, such as the Clean Energy Council’s approved product databases, to streamline data provision. Installers or electrical contractors will be mostly asked to confirm information, rather than enter it.

Importantly, the DER Register activation from 1 December 2019 does not change the grid connection approval processes. All parties must continue to make contact with their local network service provider for a connection approval and instructions on how to provide any data for the DER Register.

AEMO has developed a range of communications materials, including a fact sheet, FAQs and other resources, to introduce the DER Register and provide an overview of how changes coming from 1 December, available on AEMO’s website.

The new system and approach represent a change to the way small-scale solar, batteries and other forms of DER are deployed in Australia, but the benefits are set to be large for all Australians.

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