Keeping the electricity grid’s frequency stable is a complex balancing act. For generators to safely run, Australia’s grid frequency needs to stay as close as possible to 50Hz. Any deviation away from this can have catastrophic consequences, like the state-wide power outages in South Australia in 2016.
To help the National Electricity Market (NEM) maintain system security and keep the grid balanced, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) runs ancillary services markets to procure energy reserves capable of rebalancing the system when it deviates from 50Hz. These are known as the FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services) markets.
When power plants or network lines unexpectedly fail, FCAS brings the grid back into the safe frequency range by balancing demand and supply, which helps to prevent widespread blackouts and outages.
How businesses can participate in the frequency control market
We operate an FCAS program, which gives business the opportunity to receive regular payments in exchange for reducing their power consumption when the grid is unbalanced.
This is one of our Demand Response (or power flexibility) programs, which has proven critical in helping balance the grid quickly and reliably when needed.
How it works:
We set up our customers so that they can respond when the grid is unbalanced. They do this by curtailing energy use of non-critical equipment or seamlessly switching to their onsite backup generator
Our market-leading technology means our customers can respond to deviations in the grid’s frequency in less than one second
The grid receives immediate support, and the markets’ response helps to: stop the fall in frequency, bring it back up to the normal operating range, and ensure the grid is stabilised moving forward
Our customers are financially rewarded for helping to keep the grid stable by participating in the FCAS markets.
For example, last year we helped a mid-size cold storage site earn AUD $50,000 from participating in the FCAS markets.
Many of our Demand Response programs run in parallel, so you can maximise your total annual value by optimising your flexibility assets across multiple programs.
This is a new opportunity for many businesses
Until recently, businesses could only participate in the FCAS markets via their retail supplier, and most retailers didn’t consider this a priority for their customers.
In 2017, there was a rule change to allow independent operators like Enel X to participate in the market. We became the first third-party aggregator to participate in the FCAS markets and we’re still the only independent operator that offers this capacity in the frequency control market today.
Our global, demonstrated experience
We’ve had a long history working in Demand Response and frequency control services. We entered New Zealand’s Interruptible Load (IL) market in 2008, their equivalent to FCAS. Today, we’re one of the biggest NZIL market participants, representing on average 65% of the interruptible load in the market.
Our experience and expertise offshore enabled us to become the first third-party aggregator in the NEM. Today, we represent about 15% of the market, offering our customers’ flexible energy load. Our participation has directly contributed to a reduction in FCAS prices (AEMO, 2018), a benefit that flows on to all electricity users.
We can help you get the most out of the FCAS market
As the only independent aggregator in the market, we’re uniquely positioned to maximise the earnings for every megawatt available. Our global experience and market-leading technology maximises your site’s market participation every day.
There can sometimes be barriers to entry, which we can help you overcome. Businesses with lower energy loads need an aggregator to participate in the market, due to minimum bidding rules. There can also be high initial equipment costs and technical requirements for participating, which we can also help you navigate.
In addition to the support of our local team, we have a dedicated 24/7/365 team in Dublin that operates our market portfolio, so you earn revenue at all times.
Want to know more about participating in the FCAS markets? Get in touch with our team.