Supermarkets hold the key to a cool future

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is working with Enel X to launch “Unlocking Flexible Demand in the Commercial Refrigeration Sector”, a program that will assist with integrating renewable energy sources into electricity networks.

ARENA has granted Enel X $3.7 million in funding to demonstrate how the flexible demand systems can work in the commercial and industrial refrigeration sector.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller says commercial refrigeration can unlock this opportunity at a material scale.

“Our electricity grid is changing, and a more variable supply requires more flexible demand,” he says.

The organisations believe refrigeration is an ideal source for flexible demand. According to ARENA, there is an estimated 500MW of potential flexible demand in refrigeration across Australia’s supermarkets, grocery stores, beverage shops and warehouses.

Refrigeration is also suitable for flexible demand because commercial units can respond quickly when turned off, but will maintain their temperature for a long time. In the flexible demand model, Enel X’s virtual power plant will redirect the energy where it is needed and ease pressure off the grid.

Enel X and ARENA are seeking 440 supermarkets and 13 refrigerated warehouses to aggregate 20.9MW of flexible demand across the National Electricity Market.

Enel X has already engaged a Tier 1 grocery chain as an initial supermarket partner, and is actively recruiting commercial refrigeration businesses across supermarket, grocery, beverage, convenience and last mile logistics to fulfill ARENA’s 440 store funding support.

Lineage Logistics will also take part in the project, with 13 refrigerated warehouse sites.

Managing Director of Enel X APAC Jeff Renaud hopes the project will prove that small-scale refrigeration systems, when plugged into a virtual power plant, can make a large-scale contribution to the renewable energy transition.

“The energy market needs new ways to balance renewables and businesses need new ways to reduce energy costs,” he says.

The project is set to run until March 2027. For more information, please click here.

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