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Powering new opportunities for the energy industry.

deX is a digital platform that enables electricity grids to support more renewables, handling the growing increase in rooftop solar, electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources (DER). Not only does it give the industry a panoramic view of energy demand and supply from these DER, it also opens up new opportunities in managing energy marketplaces, trading energy services, protecting the network and more.

General

What is a smart energy device?

Smart energy devices include solar PV systems, battery storage systems, smart air conditioners, smart pool pumps and larger equipment like smart building energy management systems. 

What makes them smart is that they can help their owners to manage their electricity use. This help might include reducing consumption from the grid at peak times, cycling the pool pump or air conditioner to reduce consumption at peak times, switching the battery from charge to discharge to take advantage of higher prices, or using smart software to coordinate high-load appliance operations like dishwashers, dryers etc. 

These same smarts, combined with communications capability, can also provide energy services that contribute to a more sustainable grid. A number of energy services can only be accessed through participation as part of an aggregated group. This is where smart fleets, virtual power plants and aggregators become important.

What is a smart fleet?

Like a fleet of cars, when considered as a group, smart devices can also be thought of as a ‘smart fleet’. A smart fleet is generally the same type of technology (eg. a smart residential battery fleet), if not the same product entirely (eg. inverter brand X’s residential battery fleet). Being part of a fleet suggests that there is an agent that has some ability to contact owners, coordinate their activities and/or respond on behalf of the entire fleet. 

What is a virtual power plant, or ‘VPP’?

Similar to a smart fleet, a virtual power plant (commonly called a “VPP”) is a group of controllable devices that can be coordinated in a similar way to a power plant. Controllable devices can include smart batteries, smart solar PV, smart pool pumps, air conditioners all the way up to commercial generators and building energy management systems. 

A VPP is virtual in that the group of devices are likely to include multiple types of technologies that vary in size (capacity), are geographically distributed but are all able to connect and communicate to a virtual platform where they are represented and can be called on to participate in energy or grid services. These calls to participate will happen in response to particular market conditions such as high prices, peak demand, low demand, frequency support etc.

In addition to the devices enrolled into this virtual power plant, a “VPP” will include: 

  • a VPP operator – a licenced market participant, such as an electricity retailer; and  
  • a VPP platform – a software layer where the group of assets are aggregated and represented in the software layer and can be coordinated by the VPP operator.

How do virtual power plants work for smart device owners?

Smart device owners can choose to join a VPP to access savings and additional value for the services that their devices can provide. By joining a VPP, homeowners can be rewarded for sharing access to their smart device with the VPP operator (the retailer) and for the times that their device provides services as part of the VPP.  

What’s an aggregator?

An aggregator is a type of energy service provider who has permission to:

  • manage the energy consumption of a group of customers, and/or
  • manage energy generation on behalf of a group of customers by selling the excess electricity they produce on their behalf. 

These activities can be done by retailers or independent aggregation businesses. Today, independent aggregation service providers are mainly active in the commercial and industrial customer scale. At the residential level, electricity retailers are more likely to provide services on behalf of their customers; provided they have the customer’s explicit informed consent. 

Can an electricity retailer be an aggregator?

Yes. An electricity retailer can also undertake all the activities of an aggregator. Under Australia’s electricity rules for residential customers’ participation in market activities (including via VPPs), an electricity retailer must act as the agent for the customer. 

Energy Service Provider & Tech partners

Which energy service providers are involved in the project? 

Our energy service provider/retail energy partners are Amber Electricity, Discover Energy, Powershop and Simply Energy.

Which technology vendors are involved?

Our partner technology vendors are Alpha ESS, Enphase Energy, Fronius, GoodWe, Growatt, Solar Analytics, Solax, Solis,  Sungrow, and Wattwatchers.

Who can register eligible smart devices in deX? 

Individual owners can register their details to participate in deX via our device registrations site

Devices can be registered in deX by deX certified technologies and/or certified energy providers. Formal enrolment into a VPP is only done by a certified retailer/aggregator partners or their authorised service providers, and require the customer’s explicit informed consent to do so.  

Is there a requirement for eligible smart device owners to participate? 

There is no requirement for eligible devices owners to register in deX. Participation is completely voluntary. It is your choice.

Can I register my own smart device in deX? 

Yes, smart device owners can register their devices through the device registrations site. 

Eligible devices

What devices are eligible?

Eligible device technologies are listed here.

Are there any technical or other limitations?
Only one registration incentive is available per household. The household must be located in South Australia. Devices must have communications capability and be linked (online) to a technology provider’s system. The provider is most likely the inverter company or a monitoring service provider.  

What makes a device eligible?

All of the eligible devices have been certified via our deX API. 

What if my device isn’t eligible?

We are working to enable smart devices to be eligible, as quickly as possible. If your device is not listed as eligible today, sign up here and we’ll let you know as soon as it happens.

Is there a requirement for eligible smart device owners to participate? 

Participation is completely voluntary. Smart device owners can choose to participate. There is no requirement for eligible devices owners to participate. 

What about community energy projects/assets?

Community energy projects are not eligible for the device registration reward. However, if you manage a community energy project that incorporates eligible devices and are interested in registering your project to participate as part of a VPP, please get in touch with us to find out more. 

What’s the SA Home Battery Scheme?  

South Australia Home Battery Scheme is a battery incentive program aimed at making smart batteries more affordable. The scheme gives all grid-connected SA residents access to state government subsidies and low-interest loans to help pay for a smart home battery system and new solar if required. The scheme website provides further information on available subsidy rates and what to look for when purchasing a new home battery system. 

For complete clarity, residents who access a subsidy under the Home Battery Scheme and have a deX SA eligible device can also access the registration reward.

Device registration

What does device registration mean for smart device owners? 

By registering their eligible smart device, owners can – via a simple process – access available VPP offers and be rewarded for services that their smart device can provide. As a bonus, there’s up to $100 available as a registration reward. 

What is a “nimmi” (NMI) and why is it important?

All energy systems have unique identification numbers that delineate individual electricity meters. In Australia, these numbers are called the National Meter Identifier (NMI), or “nimmi”. By confirming the NMI for a registered device, we can match each device to the correct retailer and corresponding energy offer, specific network location and ensure the national energy market operator has appropriate visibility of device activity. 

What about other states?

The deX SA device registration incentive reward is only available to residents and devices that are grid-connected and located in South Australia. 

Energy and grid services

What energy services can be provided to the grid?

A range of services can be provided to the grid where that service can support creation of value to another party. Currently, customer-owned devices are able to provide services to:

  • The wholesale energy market
  • Frequency Control Ancillary Service (FCAS) markets.

The type and distributed nature of customer-owned smart devices means that they are also capable of providing a range of services to the network, but need to be in sufficient numbers and in specific locations for this to be useful and valuable.  

How does my registered device provide those services to the grid?

To provide these services (and receive benefit from doing so), you will need to be enrolled to participate in a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). 

Your VPP operator (most likely your electricity retailer) is able to provide these services to the market by remotely controlling your device. This control might be an instruction to start charging or discharging your battery, or, to set your device into a certain operating mode.

Once your VPP operator has finished controlling your device your device will be restored to its normal operating mode.

Because of the way the wholesale energy market operates – prices change every 30 minutes today and will change every 5 minutes from 2021 – it’s likely that the duration of control by your VPP operator will be relatively short. You might not even notice when they do this.

How do VPPs work, actually? 

In practice, VPPs (Virtual Power Plants) are a group of resources that are remotely controllable by a VPP operator. The VPP operator is usually a retailer that is buying energy from the wholesale energy market. To participate in the wholesale market requires the VPP operator to have access to a minimum of 0.5 – 1 MW in capacity – equivalent to a few hundred small devices. Most retailer VPPs will include multiple brands, with different sized devices (small household to commercial business-sized). 

Wholesale energy market services
By being able to communicate with and remotely control your device, the Retailer (as the VPP operator) can manage the whole VPP portfolio like a power plant. This enables the VPP operator to draw on devices when the market price for that energy is high, and direct VPP devices to draw from the market when the price is low. 

VPP operators all offer some kind of incentive/reward for allowing them to use your device within their VPP and often wrap this into an overall retail energy offer.  

Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS)
To meet their obligations for ensuring that the power system is operated in a safe, secure and reliable manner, AEMO is required to maintain the power system frequency within defined limits. To achieve this, AEMO operates a number of Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) markets, in which these services are procured from market participants.

As a part of AEMO’s VPP demonstrations program, VPP operators are able to bid into these markets, and be dispatched for these services. VPP operators will likely provide an incentive/reward for allowing them to use your device to provide this service.

Could other services be provided by smart devices in future?

Absolutely! Smart, controllable devices are capable of providing a range of services that are not recognised and valued under current market arrangements…yet.  

As a part of broader regulation and market reforms, it is expected that new market opportunities will open up to services from smart devices, such as for demand response.

About the project 

What are the key project innovations?

This project will show how smart, distributed technologies can be more easily integrated and enrolled in virtual power plants, rewarding customers and providing new service contracting opportunities for market and system operators. 

The project will demonstrate:

  • Simpler pathways for smart device registrations
  • Customer access to view and select VPP offers 
  • Streamlined tools and services to enrol smart devices into retailer VPPs
  • Value and performance of smart devices in energy services
  • Market and system operator ability to create new energy service contracts.

Are other energy services providers able to participate?

Yes. Other retailers and energy service companies (including solar retailers) are able to participate. If this is of interest, please contact our team using the big blue ‘contact us’ button at the top of the page. Or, email us at hello@deX.energy 

How long will the project be operating?

The project will operate through to the end of 2021.

Does this project conflict with the SA Smarter Homes compliance requirements that commenced in September 2020?

No. This project was originally proposed to the SA Government in late 2018, well in advance of the development of the new solar requirements. Confirmation of funding approval came in early 2020. 

It is coincidental that the registration of devices and capability to communicate with those devices via deX can support the new compliance requirements and enable their device owners to access additional value from participating in VPPs and providing services. 

 

Privacy and data protection

What data is collected?

Some information is collected in relation to your interactions within our websites. Where you submit information through forms on this site or the device registrations site, we will collect your contact information and consent for any other engagement with you and, where appropriate, for collection of details about your smart device. 

What parties will see my information?

Information that is submitted by you, or collected via interaction with our websites, will be seen by GreenSync. In certain instances, registered and authorised third parties can access certain customer information. There are strict rules that govern the circumstances under which this is permitted. You can view our full privacy policy here.

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