Wed, 10th Jan 2024

Shaping Australia’s Energy Future through Contingency FCAS Markets – A Glimpse into 2024 

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world of energy, balancing stability with innovation is a key challenge. At VIOTAS, we find ourselves at the heart of this transformation, especially in the area of Contingency Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS). Our focus is unwavering: to drive change and contribute to a sustainable energy future and stable energy systems. 

This interview with Paul Moore, Managing Director of VIOTAS Australia, offers an exclusive insight into our journey in the Australian energy market. It is an opportunity for us to share the milestones we’ve achieved, the challenges we have overcome, and the pioneering solutions we have developed. More than an overview of our initiatives, this conversation is a glimpse into our ongoing effort to support a sustainable energy future for Australia.  

Could you provide an overview of the Australian energy landscape and how VIOTAS is actively participating in this market?   

Australia’s energy sector is shifting towards more sustainable and low-emission practices. A key challenge in this transition is ensuring the grid’s stability. VIOTAS is addressing this issue with our advanced Demand Response technologies. This makes us a significant contributor to the Contingency Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) markets. 

The introduction of new market services, such as R1S, highlights the crucial role of FCAS in the energy transition. R1S is enabled in proportion to the amount of renewable energy online at any given time. An important metric in this program is The Rate of Change of Frequency (RoCoF), which measures how rapidly the grid frequency changes following events like a generator tripping. With a higher proportion of renewable energy, the RoCoF tends to be faster, necessitating a more rapid contingency service response.  

In fast-responding markets like R1S, which requires a 1-second response, the technology and installation approach of VIOTAS truly stand out. All VIOTAS customers were participating in R1S from the very first day. Originating in Ireland, where the fast contingency markets operate at 150ms, VIOTAS’s technology ensures that our customers are well-prepared and positioned to benefit as Australia introduces even faster contingency markets.    

It is interesting that VIOTAS clients can participate in R1S from Day 1. How has VIOTAS adapted to this new service?  

Our adaption to R1S market has been seamless, largely due to our technology and solution engineering being focussed on rapid response since we began operations in Australia in 2020. It is interesting to note that, so far, only Demand Response initiatives and certain Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) have participated in the R1S market.  

We’re delighted to offer Commercial and Industrial (C&I) clients the chance to provide crucial grid support for renewable energy while gaining financial benefits. Personally, I find the concept of Demand Response for providing grid stability services very appealing. Its advantage lies in using existing assets that serve multiple purposes. This approach eliminates the need for new construction, additional materials, planning and extra costs, making it an efficient and sustainable solution for grid support. 

Are there any obstacles for current and future clients joining R1S?  

For new clients looking to join the R1S market, the main challenge lies in meeting certain technical requirements. These specifications are intricate but crucial for successful participation in the FCAS market. At VIOTAS, we simplify this process through our expertise in assessing assets and crafting solutions tailored to each client’s specific needs. This involves a detailed analysis of the asset’s capabilities, responsiveness, and compatibility with the R1S specifications. We consider various factors such as the asset’s response time, energy output capacity, and integration with existing systems. After that, a bespoke solution is developed to meet the R1S market’s technical demands while maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the client’s participation. Our solutions are designed to be scalable and adaptable, allowing for adjustments as market demands or new technological advancements emerge. 

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Reflecting on the trends in 2023, what notable developments or shifts has VIOTAS noticed in the Contingency FCAS markets, and what are your forecasts for 2024?  

As we look back on the trends of 2023, we have seen several significant changes in the Contingency FCAS markets. Despite the unpredictable nature of contingency events, the market has shown dynamic and positive growth. 

One of the most significant trends is the growing emphasis on faster response services within the Contingency FCAS market. This shift is in line with the broader objectives of the Australian energy transition, focussing on speed and efficiency in response to grid fluctuations. 

Looking ahead to 2024, we at VIOTAS are optimistic about the continued growth and importance of these fast-response services. We anticipate an ongoing increase in the market value, driven by the global push towards more renewable energy sources. We foresee that this trend will open up new opportunities for innovation and technological advancement in the sector. VIOTAS are ready to embrace it, leveraging our expertise to make a positive impact during this transformative period.  

How will VIOTAS collaborate with clients and other industry stakeholders to enhance the overall effectiveness of Contingency FCAS markets?  

VIOTAS is committed to enhancing the overall effectiveness of the Contingency FCAS markets by working together with clients, industry stakeholders, regulators, and even competitors. 

Our approach includes active participation in discussions with regulators and industry forums, which helps us stay informed and influence Australian energy market developments. We work closely with our clients to understand their specific needs, tailoring our solutions for maximum effectiveness in the FCAS markets. We also recognise the value of collaborating with competitors on broader market issues, fostering a more competitive and efficient energy landscape. Through these combined efforts, VIOTAS aim to drive advancements that benefit the entire energy ecosystem.  

Thank you, Paul, for your insightful sharing! 

About VIOTAS: 

Established in 2013, VIOTAS set about designing and delivering new innovations to address the challenges posed by increased renewable generation in electrical grids: How can a grid be balanced when a large amount of electricity is coming from unpredictable renewable sources that are difficult to forecast and that change the fundamental principles of how grids operate? 

In response, VIOTAS developed proprietary technologies that place electricity customers at the core of the solution. By managing their electricity consumption and onsite generation in real-time, VIOTAS help balance the wider electricity grid. The company then aggregates participating customers to form Virtual Power Plants which are traded in the electricity market, competing against conventional fossil fuel power stations. This approach not only generates significant revenue for participating customers but also contributes to reducing carbon emissions. With a global expansion strategy, VIOTAS, currently with over 110 staff, operates in Ireland, Poland, USA, Australia and New Zealand. Contact us!