Dr. Gabrielle Kuiper

Australian energy ministers are being urged to rethink their approach to demand response, with the decision to mandate the AS4755 standard for appliances labelled an outdated solution that would greatly limit consumer outcomes

In an electricity grid largely made up of renewable energy, demand response, or the ability for retailers and energy users to coordinate a response to periods of high demand is increasingly thought of as an essential strategy to maintain overall stability. 

With Australia’s grid slowly transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, in 2019 energy ministers moved to require various domestic appliances to support demand response, including air conditioners, electric storage water heaters, pool pump controllers and electric vehicle charging stations. 

A new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has backed the push for integrating demand response capabilities into appliances, however said many better options were already available internationally to do this than what was being considered in Australia. 

Report author Dr. Gabrielle Kuiper told The Fifth Estate the move would force appliance manufacturers to create Australian-specific products, potentially increasing price and putting the country well behind the rest of the world in terms of capability.  

“A better option for the Ministers would be to allow manufacturers to use already available, widely used, and well-supported international demand response standards,” she said.

Kuiper said the impact if Australia persisted on its current track would ultimately mean more cost for consumers and potentially lock them out of future demand response markets. 

“Effectively you’d be locking households out of opportunities to earn revenue from their appliances,” Dr Kuiper said. 

The government’s current timeline would require AC and hot water manufacturers to offer appliances with distributed energy capabilities by 1 July 2023, swimming pool pump controllers by 1 July 2024, and EV chargers/dischargers by 1 July 2026.

“Instead of AS4755, Energy Ministers need to legislate for priority appliances to support ‘a demand response capability’,” technical consultant and co-author Dr. Martin Gill said. 

“This leaves manufacturers, and the market, free to offer a range of different solutions that are already available, rather than locking Australia into an unsupported solution which is already out-of-date.”

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