ARENA backs project to provide flexible energy demand for refrigeration sector

Image credit: ARENA's Twitter

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has invested $3.7 million in energy company Enel X to support a project aimed at demonstrating and scaling flexible demand solutions in the commercial and industrial refrigeration sector. 

The project, dubbed “Unlocking Flexible Demand in the Commercial Refrigeration Sector,” seeks to demonstrate the business case for flexible demand solutions in refrigeration and to derisk the adoption of emerging technology for prospective demand response providers. 

The project will convene 440 supermarkets and 13 refrigerated warehouses to aggregate 20.9 MW of flexible demand across the National Energy Market. 

Participating facilities will help alleviate grid constraints and support the safe and reliable supply of electricity to all consumers while being financially rewarded by Enel X’s virtual power plant, ARENA said in a media release

Enel X has engaged a Tier 1 Grocery chain as an initial supermarket partner, with a 20-store pilot extending up to 250 stores participating in the VPP. Lineage Logistics will participate in the project with 13 refrigerated warehouse sites. 

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project can pave the way for more investments in flexible demand. 

“Our electricity grid is changing, and a more variable supply requires more flexible demand,” Miller said. “Commercial refrigeration can unlock this opportunity at a material scale, so we’re excited to see the Enel X project rolled out across Australian supermarkets and other businesses with refrigeration.”

Jeff Renaud, managing director of Enel X APAC, said, “The energy market needs new ways to balance renewables and businesses need new ways to reduce energy costs. With ARENA’s support, we 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 “Unlocking Flexible Demand in the Commercial Refrigeration Sector” project is due to be completed in 2027.