About one in ten Australian households have installed solar on their roofs and the number of battery storage installations on the rise.
So, there is an opportunity for these ‘distributed generators’ to play an important role as active participants on Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM). carbonTRACK’s intelligent home energy management platform provides the (until now missing) key for the country’s solar homes to be treated as the generators that they rightfully are.
Until recently, solar households were only eligible to receive a fixed, flat rate for their exported solar energy. Previously, the rates were quite high (e.g. 60c per kilowatt-hour under the soon-to-end NSW Solar Bonus Scheme, and 44c/kWh under the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme).
In the last few years, however, rates have been quite low (6-10c/kWh) and are more often than not set voluntarily by electricity retailers. In fact, for anyone who went (or is thinking about going) solar after 2016, the highest feed-in tariff rate you’re likely to find will be about 10c/kWh.
This means that it makes more financial sense for solar homes to make sure they use all of their solar energy directly, inside their homes. By doing so, they save themselves 20-30c/kWh in avoided electricity bill costs – up to 3 times what their solar would be worth if sent into the grid.
In essence, solar households are disincentivised from behaving as a responsive part of Australia’s electricity infrastructure. This is not only a missed opportunity for maximising the efficiency of the electricity system of a whole, it’s also a missed opportunity for solar homes to be rewarded for meaningful participation in the NEM.
Electricity spot market access is the missing piece of the puzzle, but until recently it simply didn’t exist. The spot energy market allows producers of surplus energy to instantly locate available buyers for this energy, negotiate prices within milliseconds, and deliver energy to the customer just a few minutes later.
With the introduction of retail electricity packages that allow solar homes to receive the NEM spot market price for their exported solar energy (such as Urth Energy’s Urth Trader plan), it is now possible for households to selectively export their solar or stored energy at times when it is in their best interest to do so – taking advantage of high spot prices when they occur.
carbonTRACK has been designed to help solar homes to maximise solar self-consumption when it is most advantageous for to do so. When paired with batteries, home owners have a range of options – to use thier energy, to store it for later use, or to store it until the energy trading market is at its peak.
Spot price data is freely available through the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and price movements of the wholesale electricity spot market are being incorporated into the carbonTRACK dashboard.
So, if you’re on an electricity plan that gives you access to the wholesale spot market, carbonTRACK will also consider whether it makes more financial sense to send your energy into the grid to receive a rate higher than what you’d earn from using it yourself.
Pretty cool stuff!