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Enel X awarded $3.7 million ARENA grant to unlock flexible demand in the commercial refrigeration sector

Enel X Australia is the recipient of ARENA grant funding to support flexible demand projects in small commercial refrigeration.

Melbourne, 18 July 2023 –  Enel X Australia (Enel X) has been awarded a $3.7 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support flexible demand solutions in the small commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors.  


Commercial and industrial refrigeration provide an ideal source of flexible demand on a large scale, with an estimated 500 MW of potential flexible demand in refrigeration across Australia’s National Electricity Market. 


Enel X is recruiting 440 commercial refrigeration facilities across supermarket, grocery, beverage, convenience and last mile logistics to deliver much needed Flexible Demand capacity to support Australia’s renewable energy transition. 


Enel X’s ‘Unlocking Flexible Demand in the Commercial Refrigeration Sector’ program will aggregate more than 20 MW of flexible demand from businesses across the National Electricity Market. The sites will participate in Enel X’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and provide services to support Australia’s electricity system. The businesses involved will support the safe and reliable supply of electricity to all consumers and be financially rewarded for doing so via Enel X’s VPP.  


Flexible demand is the coordinated orchestration of electrical load to ease pressure on the grid. As variable renewable sources like wind and solar produce a greater share of Australia’s electricity generation, solutions are required to help match up supply and demand. Energy storage is one part of the equation but shifting demand away from peak times and reducing demand at critical times can complement this and reduce the overall cost of energy.  


Refrigeration, like other forms of heating and cooling, offers a valuable source of flexible demand due to the thermal mass of facilities maintaining temperature even when refrigerators and chillers are ramped down. Small changes to power usage can have a large impact when aggregated at scale, with no noticeable change for users or impact to product quality.  


Enel X has engaged a Tier 1 Grocery chain as an initial supermarket customer for this project with a 20-store pilot with potential to extend to up to 250 stores participating in the VPP.

Lineage Logistics’ refrigerated warehouses will also take part in the project at 13 refrigerated warehouse sites. Enel X is actively sourcing other businesses with varied refrigeration applications to participate in the program. 


ARENA, established by the Australian Government has the purpose to support the transition to net zero emissions by accelerating the pace of pre-commercial innovation, to the benefit of Australian consumers, businesses and workers.  


ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project can pave the way for further investment in flexible demand. “Our electricity grid is changing, and a more variable supply requires more flexible demand,” Mr Miller said. “Commercial refrigeration can unlock this on a greater scale than the household level, so we’re excited to see the Enel X project rolled out across Australian supermarkets and other businesses with refrigeration. We want to see projects like this demonstrate to the market the benefits of flexible demand – to electricity users and the grid. By demonstrating and proving the technology to prospective users, we’re hoping to see more and more electricity users look to it as an attractive option.


Enel X operates Australia’s largest Virtual Power Plant which aggregates flexible demand, battery storage, backup generation and electric mobility resources to support the grid and firm the supply of renewable power. 


Jeff Renaud, Managing Director of Enel X APAC, noted that “The energy market needs new ways to balance renewables, and businesses need new ways to reduce energy costs. With ARENA’s support, we will prove that small-scale refrigeration systems, when plugged into a Virtual Power Plant, can make a large-scale contribution to the renewable energy transition.”