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REPORT: Great distributed energy resources potential for NSW primary industries, but obstacles too

21 July 2021

A report commissioned by A2EP for the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has identified extensive opportunities for the uptake of distributed energy resources (DER) by primary producers – along with a number of barriers which need to be overcome to take advantage of the opportunities.

Despite growing enthusiasm for renewable energy generation across the agricultural sector as a way to reduce energy costs, generate additional income and decarbonise operations, uptake of DER has been limited with projects facing a number of roadblocks.

This was highlighted by feasibility studies conducted for the Energy Efficiency Solutions Project, as part of the NSW DPI Climate Change Research Strategy. These studies assessed the technical and commercial viability of ten projects. One of them, a virtual microgrid project, was proposed to build commercial arrangements between a large dairy producer and its supplier farms to enable peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading of on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) generation. The project was deemed unfeasible, with the greatest hurdles being regulatory as a result of the project proponents being serviced by the National Electricity Market (NEM) and its associated infrastructure.

This report, researched and written by Energetics, was commissioned in response to the obstacles identified through this study. It identifies and assesses the distributed energy resource (DER) options available to primary producers, the benefits, costs and challenges, as well as the support and reforms that will be needed to unlock the potential of DER in the farming sector.

Four DER scenarios are investigated for technical and commercial feasibility:

1) virtual net-metering

2) exploring secondary income streams

3) grid-connected microgrids, and

4) virtual peer-to-peer energy trading.


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