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ARENA funds flexible services trial in Victoria

Bunbury offshore wind

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a $3.54 million investment in the Flexible Services Trial project.

Led by United Energy, the project will explore innovative solutions for managing flexible demand and integrating more renewables into the grid in Victoria.

According to ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller, the project will help develop the flexible, dynamic grid needed to respond to the growing share of renewable energy powering in Australia’s grid.

The project, with a total cost of $8 million, aims to address the challenges associated with two-way electricity flows from renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar systems. It seeks to identify the capabilities needed to facilitate a seamless, flexible connection experience for customers at scale.

The project will consist of two trials: a hot water load control trial and a flexible exports trial.

The hot water load control trial will manage hot water usage via smart meters to align with periods of low demand and high solar production, with the potential to scale up to 146,000 customers or 120 megawatts in flexible capacity.

The flexible exports trial will enable 100 residential and five commercial and industrial customers to export solar electricity from their rooftops above current static limits using dynamic operating envelopes, varying solar exports in line with local network demand.

United Energy general manager, electricity networks, Glen Thomson said that the project will support the network in integrating more renewable technology and providing benefits to customers.

“Our network is critical to supporting Victoria move towards a clean energy future,” he said,”and this project will involve us operating our network in a different way that will provide significant benefits to our customers and the community going forward.”

The Flexible Services Trial is expected to be completed in 2026.

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