Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Demonstrations

AEMO is collaborating with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), and members of the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP), to establish the VPP Demonstrations.

These demonstrations are the first step in a broad program of work designed to inform changes to regulatory frameworks and operational processes so Distributed Energy Resources (DER) can be effectively integrated into the National Electricity Market (NEM), maximising value to consumers while also supporting power system security.

A virtual power plant (VPP) broadly refers to an aggregation of resources (such as decentralised generation, storage and controllable loads) coordinated to deliver services for power system operations and electricity markets.

July 2020 Update – VPP extension

On Thursday 30th July 2020, AEMO confirmed the extension of the VPP Demonstration to June 2021. The extension in the demonstration will facilitate a broad range of technologies and businesses to participate in the demonstration, while enabling AEMO to obtain further insights into the technical, market and consumer impacts of the DER participation in contingency FCAS markets. 

The demonstration’s extension until June 2021 is conditional on having at least three (3) additional participants fully enrolled by 31 October 2020.  These additional participants will need to be: 

  • actively bidding in the FCAS and other ancillary markets, 
  • sharing operational and telemetry data on an ongoing basis and, 
  • participating in the consumer insights survey

AEMO may review the decision to extend the demonstration in November 2020, if this has not been achieved. 

During FY21, AEMO will be working with industry and consumer groups to explore the on-going arrangements for DER to participate in the contingency FCAS markets. AEMO’s VPP team is keen to engage with active and potential VPP participants on the technical settings, business models and regulatory arrangements to support long-term arrangements for DER participation in FCAS markets - expected to commence in FY22. 

VPP Demonstrations Insights

Since the first VPP participant joined in September 2019, AEMO has had the opportunity to observe its behaviour during a number of events. AEMO is committed to knowledge sharing to distribute the key learnings from the VPP Demonstrations to a broad audience.

The first such knowledge sharing document published in conjunction with ARENA, which includes early lessons learnt and next steps, is below.

Since the first knowledge sharing report, AGL has also joined the VPP Demonstrations. The second knowledge sharing report below includes a range of insights including information from both Energy Locals and AGL:

In addition to data insights, AEMO in conjunction with ARENA are undertaking a consumer experience study. Key findings from this study, and further insights from the data available will be published in the third knowledge sharing report due to be published in Q1 2021.

VPP Demonstrations objectives

AEMO has established a framework to allow VPPs to demonstrate their capability to deliver services in contingency FCAS and energy markets. The VPP Demonstrations will allow participating VPPs to trial a new specification to deliver contingency FCAS, and AEMO will observe how VPPs respond to energy market price signals as non-scheduled resources. By trialling VPP operations while their aggregated fleets remain of a small scale, the VPP Demonstrations aim to inform the effective integration of VPPs into the NEM before they reach large scale.

The VPP Demonstrations aim to:

  • Allow VPPs to demonstrate their capability to deliver multiple value streams across FCAS, energy and potential network support services.
  • Provide AEMO with operational visibility to help AEMO consider how to integrate VPPs effectively into the NEM.
  • Assess current regulatory arrangements affecting participation of VPPs in energy and FCAS markets, and inform new or amended arrangements where appropriate.
  • Provide insights on how to improve consumers’ experience of VPPs in future.
  • Understand what cyber security measures VPPs currently implement, and whether their cyber security capabilities should be augmented in future.

Important information for VPP participants

The following information is important to all prospective VPP participants and should be utilised prior to and during enrolment.

Background information:

Enrolment and onboarding information:

Further information can be found in the following FAQs, and on the VPP Demonstrations Working Group webpage.

VPP Demonstrations FAQ

Category: General

  • Q. Are diesel/bio fuel generation considered suitable for the VPP demonstrations?

    A. VPPs are a technology-neutral concept and have been designed to accommodate a variety of technologies within or across VPP portfolios. 

  • Q. What are current struggles limiting the number of VPPs joining to the VPP Demonstrations?

    A. Each prospective participant has their own challenges, however, we have received feedback that the following are currently holding up some participants from joining: 1 MW FCAS delivery requirement; end user contracts that allow participants to meet the customer insights requirement of the demonstrations; build of the orchestration platform to bid into FCAS market; building APIs and integrating with AEMO, along with successfully sending data; and COVID-19 impacts.

  • Q. When will the VPP Demonstrations conclude?

    A. The VPP Demonstrations are currently set to conclude on 31 July 2020 as noted in the program Terms and Conditions. From this point onwards, VPP Participants will cease to be considered registered participants, will not be able to participate in the FCAS market and will cease sending data to AEMO.  
    Due to COVID-19 impacts, and other key learnings not yet achieved due to the infancy of VPPs in Australia, AEMO are currently assessing potential extensions to the VPP Demonstration program and will update current and prospective participants on the future as this becomes clearer.  
    There will be a 3-month notice period given prior to the conclusion of the demonstrations as outlined in the VPP Enrolment form Terms and Conditions.   


Category : FCAS Delivery

  • Q. Export can be provided by more than just batteries. Can we assume that any export (eg: rooftop solar) will also be considered as negative load?

    A. The export from a site will be considered as negative load for the purposes of FCAS delivery in the VPP demonstrations. However, if rooftop solar is used, the participant will need to demonstrate how the solar output is being curtailed or how the loads are controlled to deliver a raise or lower response. 

  • Q. Can the megawatt across the VPP be a mix of technologies?

    A. Yes but the FCAS controller from the mix of technology needs to be similar. For example, one VPP cannot combine variable/proportional controllers with switching controllers.

  • Q. Can the testing of the single battery for FCAS be performed at a live site (by modifying the droop settings) or would this need to be a ‘benchtest’ demonstrations?

    A. Single battery test can be at a live site if it meets the technical requirements of the frequency injection test in the VPP demonstrations FCAS specification.

  • Q. Regarding fleet MW capability, does that have to be available at any time, or is the VPP able to only 'bid' when they have the capability?

    A. The participant does not need to offer the VPP into the FCAS market all the time. They must only bid the FCAS capacity that can be delivered.

  • Q. How is the FCAS service enablement signal/file made available for VPPs and what is the timing of this signal/file?

    A. The Contingency FCAS enablement file (dispatch instructions) are made available electronically to VPPs via AEMO Electricity Market Management System (EMMS) interfaces. This file is sent from the NEMDE and will take up to 60 seconds (maximum) to process.

  • Q. What is the maximum capacity of each ancillary service unit?

    A. The maximum capacity per NMI in the VPP Demonstrations is 5 MW. 
    In order to be eligible for participating in the VPP Demonstrations, you must have at least 2 NMIs aggregated under 1 DUID.

  • Q. Do I need to complete a frequency injection test on a single Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to capture less than or equal to 50ms measurements of power and frequency if he sampling rate for each site is 100ms?

    A. Yes, the frequency injection test determines the maximum fast contingency FCAS of the BESS, in line with the technical requirements of the Market Ancillary Service Specification. 

  • Q. How is the capacity in each of the FCAS contingency markets determined from the installed battery capacity?

    A. The maximum FCAS capacity of one battery is determined by the frequency injection test. The capacity registered in the FCAS market is determined by the VPP wide test where the aggregated FCAS response is compared with the calculated FCAS response. For example, if the participant is looking to register 1 MW in the FCAS market, the calculated FCAS response is based on a 1 MW FCAS enablement.

Category: APIs and Data

  • Q. Regarding API Data Submission, how will AEMO servers guarantee up-time? Do clients need to be able to re-submit failed transfers if the AEMO server is non-responsive?

    A.  AEMO guarantees meeting the AEMO’s VPP Application uptime SLA.  

    AEMO recommends implementing a re-try policy on client end to cater for scenarios which result in failed data submission due to Network or server issue.

    It is expected that clients will re-submit failed data transfers.

    Further to this, it is recommended to set a maximum number of re-tries (e.g. 3 to 5) and use a combination of exponential back-off or incremental intervals both with randomization until either a successful response is received or the maximum number of re-tries is reached in which case, the error should be logged and report the operation as failed. The idea behind combining these different re-try policies is to ensure the client application is quite unlikely to send more than one re-try request to the server at the same instant of time to avoid further stress on the backend server (if any) as well as to overcome periods of increased network activity between the two parties.

  • Q. Will there be a penalty policy associated with not providing Data in time?

    A. Not during the trial – we expect every effort is made by the participant to backdate data that has not come through automatically.

  • Q. For enrolment and FCAS assessment data, is there any flexibility in timing around the provision of these API access? (e.g. After VPP registration)?

    A. Unfortunately we are unable to provide flexibility on the timing of these APIs as they are fundamental to the enrolment and FCAS verification process and must be provided before becoming a VPP participant.

  • Q. Is there any flexibility in the timing of the operational data (Aggregated and Device level telemetry data)?

    A. There is some flexibility in the timing of the provision of Aggregated and Device level telemetry data as follows:

    • Aggregated data must be successfully running less than one month (<1 month) after registration
    • Device level telemetry data must be successfully running less than two months (<2 months) after registration

    Both sets of data will need to be back-dated to the registration date if not provided from time of registration. 

  • Q. Will NMIs automatically be removed if new enrolment lists are sent through enrolment API?

    A. Submitting a new list of NMIs does not automatically overwrite the recorded (existing) NMIs. In order to remove the NMI(s) from the enrolment data, VPP needs to submit the NMI or list of NMIs via ‘removeNMIdevice’ API.
    Removing a NMI also removes all the devices attached to the NMI from the VPP portfolio.

  • Q. Can we access test APIs before registration?

    A. No, VPPs can only test access to APIs after submitting application form for enrolment into VPP Demonstrations. 
    To test connectivity and access to APIs, participants must register with AEMO as VPP. Participants require details of their VPPs via this process to establish and test connections to VPP APIs. The developer API portal is available here.

Category: Metering

  • Q. It has been indicated that FCAS response is measured at the site of solar/battery. Is this done by a meter or by VPP hardware/software?

    A. The FCAS response can be calculated using measured values from the site if it is not directly measured via meter.

  • Q. You mentioned 3 meters - loads, battery and PV. Do we need all 3 meters to be NMI approved or just Class 1/Class 0.5? Can the inverter be used as battery meter?

    A. The telemetry requirements to participate in the FCAS market are set out in the VPP demonstrations FCAS specification
    We can confirm there is no requirement to install NMI approved meters to measure an FCAS response, unless the same telemetry is used for energy settlement purposes as well, and that the inverter can be used to capture measurements of power and frequency if it meets the accuracy and sampling rate specified in the VPP demonstrations FCAS specification.


Category: MASS Review

  • Q. What is the likelihood that allowing both export and import will continue (outside the trial) and eventually be incorporated into the MASS?

    A. AEMO is likely to propose that the MASS be updated to clarify that ancillary service loads are allowed to export and import. However, any changes to the MASS are subject to the Rules Consultation Procedure, in which AEMO must give careful consideration to all relevant submissions from stakeholders. It is not possible to predict the outcome of such a Consultation.

  • Q. What is the likelihood that the relaxations of the metering speeds will survive past the VPP trials, perhaps as interim arrangements and then formalised in the MASS?

    A. The metering requirements for the fast service will need to be reviewed and AEMO will need to clarify in the MASS or in an interim arrangement document when the less stringent requirements apply. AEMO will also need to explain in the MASS or in an interim arrangement document how the FCAS response can be calculated using direct measurements from every site, rather than being directly measured. As mentioned above, the same caveats regarding the Rules Consultation Procedure will apply.

  • Q. When will these two decisions regarding MASS be made?

    A. AEMO proposes to address these two points in an upcoming MASS consultation. While Q3 2020 is being targeted, this will be subject to operational priorities, particularly around managing change throughout the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Q. What is the impact on droop setting applied to the VPP Demonstrations on low inertia energy systems?

    A. In the event where there is an aggressive droop setting (like the 0.7 droop setting in the VPP demonstrations), the response to events may result in an exasperation of the issue, rather than a correction. Currently, VPPs in the VPP Demonstrations are still small enough to allow for this droop setting, but further data and modelling is required to understand the impacts of a larger set of VPPs with this droop setting. These findings will feed into the MASS review.

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