Easing energy pressure from commercial refrigeration

The Albanese Government is backing a large commercial refrigeration trial that could change the way supermarkets use electricity and support the further integration of renewable energy into the grid.

Supported by a $3.7 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, demand response specialist Enel X will recruit up to 440 commercial refrigeration facilities and 13 refrigerated warehouses to trial ‘flexible demand’.

The $9.4 million trial will reduce constraints on the grid during peak times. Managed by a virtual power plant (VPP), the commercial refrigerators will be pre-cooled during peak solar PV generation periods when prices are low and shift usage away from times when energy demand is higher.

Enel X estimates that this will unlock 20.9 MW of flexible demand on the National Electricity Market during the trial.

Participants will be rewarded financially through Enel X’s VPP while supporting reliable electricity supply across the National Electricity Market. 

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said supermarkets and warehouses were ideal testing beds due to their high energy use.

“This is just another example of the Albanese Government investing in the technology we need to make every watt count. Supermarket and warehouse refrigeration is perfect for trialling flexible demand on a large scale,” Senator McAllister said. 

“Small changes to energy usage by industries can ease pressure on the grid, with no noticeable effect for users, increasing renewable energy and helping put downward pressure on energy prices right across the board.

“As more renewables power the grid, batteries offer a great supply side solution, but we also need to make investments and changes to the way we use energy to help ease pressure and lower emissions.”

Enel X is rolling out the project with a Tier 1 grocery chain, starting with 20 outlets and increasing the pilot to 250 supermarkets, before extending it to 440 beverage, convenience and last-mile logistics companies.