According to The Australian Financial Review, Transgrid, the NSW transmission monopoly, will install Tesla Powerpack batteries at sites around NSW to help smooth the intermittent supply of wind and solar energy and trial "demand response" – a method of avoiding blackouts and moderating prices.
The first installation of a 250 kilowatt, 500KW/h Powerpack will be at the City of Sydney's Alexandra Canal Works depot in the coming months.
An immediate response is needed because wholesale power prices have virtually doubled in the past five years, forcing some energy-hungry heavy industry to the brink of closure and adding to the hip-pocket pressure on households.
Demand response is a process where customers are offered financial incentives to curb their power usage at times of peak grid demand and send surplus power from solar panels, batteries, smart thermostats on energy-hungry airconditioners, pool pumps and electric vehicle chargers back to the grid to help avoid blackouts.
TransGrid chief executive Paul Italiano said demand management deployed at scale would help to relieve stress during peak demand around the Sydney CBD. Demand management could also reduce or defer the capital expenditure on TransGrid's electricity network, ultimately reducing the cost of bills. The batteries are managed remotely and in real time by TransGrid.
Demand management is one of the measures that experts hope can restore stability to the fragile power grid and keep heavy industry here, and software firms and some retailers are already running their own trials.
The Powerpack battery will be discharged when network congestion occurs in metropolitan Sydney. To minimise bills, charging the battery at night and discharging during the day will reduce the site load during peak hours. The batteries can also be used to maximise use of onsite solar PV generation.
The trial will also help TransGrid understand how much the solar PV output of the site can vary across the day and to how much to dispatch accordingly.
Such a trial could provide further insight into the potential for larger-scale battery installations across the grid.
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