Vikki Mcleod

    PhD Student - Can we get there from here? The role of the Commercial Customer in the Electricity Markets of the Future

    Principal Supervisor: A/Prof Wendy Miller

    Associate Supervisor: Dr Aaron Liu

    PhD Overview

    As part of the clean energy transition and the decarbonisation of the economy, the electricity market and electricity grid will need to be transformed. This transformation needs to allow for higher levels of variable renewable, the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs), and the orderly exit of coal fired power stations. In this transformed market, it is envisaged that smart grid solutions, new business models and software trading platforms, will enable trade in new commodities of flexible load sourced from consumers. The current process of energy market reform, is defined by government processes that identify new value streams may be unlocked by establishing a “Two way market” that is a new energy market at distribution level and trading in flexible load as Demand Flexibility. Demand Flexibility a form of Demand Response, is realised by allowing third party control of consumers’ energy assets at the required time, location and to benefit the electrical system as a whole. The new value streams include (a) balancing supply and demand for electricity; (b) voltage and frequency support; (c) deferment or avoidance of infrastructure investment; and (d) enhancing system security and resilience. What is not yet known is, how the design of these new trading markets, and how business innovation and customers as participants can contribute to the development and operationalisation of these new value streams. In research project, the focus is on the transformation of the electricity grid. Integrating Renewable energy technologies in the form of Distributed Energy Resources at the speed and scale required will require rapid and fundamental transformation of current economic and social structures. This research follows the Energy Market Reform process, the proposed design of a distribution level market in Demand Flexibility and uses the electricity grid as a case study to (i) Identify the changes to the electricity grid to support a Demand Flexibility Market (ii) Identify the points of innovation (ii) the role and capacity of business and technology innovation (iii) the barriers and opportunities for business model innovation and new market participation. This research is a case study around the Wholesale Demand Response Mechanism and commitment to a yet to be designed Two-Sided Market. The research project will examine businesses model innovation as a proxy of the feasibility of the Two-Sided Market and the ability of businesses to address barriers to participation by the consumer. The research will use a mixed methods approach, including; qualitative analysis (e.g. interviews, surveys, document analysis); and, quantitative analysis (e.g. financial analysis, market analysis and econometric modelling using excel and conventional approaches such as stakeholder mapping). The expected outcome will inform policy makers and new market entrants in understanding of Distribution level Demand Flexibility markets and the role of the business and commercial sector, as a provider of liquidity into these future markets.