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Distributed Energy Resources Register (DER): What it is and How it Works

DER Register

As the price of solar panels and other small-scale energy generators drop, more and more energy consumers are switching to distributed energy resource (DER) systems. In order to better monitor and understand these systems, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has implemented the DER Register to assist with the planning, operation, and management of the national power grid and distribution networks. This register is a first in Australia and the world, so for more information about DER systems and assets, and what this register means for the future of Australian energy, continue reading below.

What is the Distributed Energy Resources Register?

In 2018, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) amended the National Electricity Rules to allow the AEMO to establish the Distributed Energy Resources Register (DER Register). The DER Register will be a database of all DER assets within the National Electricity Network. Initially slated to launch December 1st, 2019 the register has since been pushed back to February 2020.

What are Distributed Energy Resources?

Distributed energy resources (DER) are small-scale, decentralized energy assets that serve private homes, businesses, or communities. DER comprises not only of energy generators (such as solar panels), but also energy storage devices, inverters, and even vehicle-to-grid electric vehicle technology.

DER assets are often connected to a national energy grid, and provide a two-way system by not only providing energy to the private home, business, or community they serve but also sending energy back into the grid to reduce pressure on the grid during peak times.

DER assets come with a range of benefits, including lower energy cost, by not only reducing reliance on the national grid but also selling excess power back into it. This, in turn, could help reduce overall energy costs as demand for national grid energy falls. In addition, many DER assets rely on renewable resources such as wind, solar, or hydro, which reduces the amount of non-renewable energy produced at a national level.

Why does the Distributed Energy Resources Register matter?

The DER Register is expected to assist the NEM in a variety of ways. By collecting all DER data, the AEMO will be able to predict, plan, and operate the national grid more effectively. In addition, by aggregating all the data now, future advancements in DER (such as micro-grids, community-based energy, and virtual power plants) will be easier to implement. By creating this register, DER visibility to the general public will also increase, hopefully leading to more small-scale energy in the future.

How does the Distributed Energy Resources Register work?

Starting in February 2020, the AEMO will begin to collect data of new DER assets, within 20 days of a system’s commission or activation. This will need to be a combined effort between consumers, installers, network service providers (NSPs), and the AEMO.

Applications for the DER Register will vary between energy distributor but, in general, this should not affect the energy consumer much more than answering a few more questions when requesting a DER system, and allowing their network service provider and the AEMO to have more information about the system.

All DER Register information will be subject to privacy laws.

What systems need to be registered?

The most common system to be registered will be solar PV systems and battery storage systems. However, the full list of systems to be recorded include:

  • Solar panels / Solar photovoltaics
  • Battery storage systems
  • Small wind turbines
  • Small hydro-electric turbines
  • Other renewable generating systems
  • Diesel or petrol generators (grid-connected)
  • Electric vehicles configured with vehicle-to-home / vehicle-to-grid technology

How will the DER register affect me?

The DER Register should have no impact on the consumer, aside from allowing the AEMO access to data about the consumer’s system. Some information that might be asked of the consumer’s system includes the location of the system, the make and model, battery capacity, and device settings. All data under the DER Register is subject to privacy laws, and no identifying data will be visible.

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