Are Smart Energy Hubs the key to a renewable energy future for commercial and industrial sectors?

Smart Energy Hubs integrate and optimise the entire energy ecosystem of a site to reduce emissions, secure energy supply, and provide firming capability to the grid. This can include heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, electric vehicle charging control, and onsite solar PV and storage.

Illustrated diagram of a Smart Energy Hub

Smart Energy Hubs in action

Shell Energy has been developing and testing its commercial and industrial flexible energy consumption program, LoadFlex, since 2019 and launched a Smart Energy Hub pilot project with The GPT Group at its Chirnside Park Shopping Centre in Melbourne in September 2022.

The project includes a 2-megawatt-hour (MWh) battery, a 650-kilowatt (kW) solar array, and HVAC LoadFlex, to enhance the stability of the electricity grid during times of energy supply constraints.

Unlocking flexible demand

Demand flexibility reduces the load on the electricity grid during high wholesale price periods by shifting energy usage to when demand – and market prices – are lower. Being able to shift energy demand to periods when renewable energy is abundant can lower energy bills and waste and reduces the need for costly network infrastructure upgrades.

Commercialising Smart Energy Hubs

Shell Energy’s $31.6 million Commercialising Smart Energy Hubs initiative targets shopping centres, supermarkets and refrigerated distribution centres across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to demonstrate an estimated 21.5 MW of flexible demand. These types of sites have higher potential for flexible demand capacity because they are large users of heating and cooling and refrigeration which can easily turn systems up and down without operational impact.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing $9.1 million to the initiative, which represents its first commercial and industrial project to demonstrate whole-of-site optimisation and delivery of market, ancillary and customer benefits through the control of energy load. If successful, the project will tackle barriers to broader uptake of flexible demand services across commercial and industrial sectors.

The aim is to directly unlock 417 MW of flexible demand and be a catalyst to realising a further 1000 MW of capacity across the National Electricity Market (NEM) by the end of 2025.

To learn more about Smart Energy Hubs and Shell Energy’s energy solutions expertise, visit our website.

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