Understanding the WA Energy Market

Western Australia’s Electricity Market

Western Australia’s electricity market operates differently from the east coast which is operated by the National Electricity Market (NEM). Instead, Western Australia’s electricity market operates under the Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM). The WEM supplies electricity to the South West of Western Australia via the South West Interconnected System. 

 

What is the WEM?
The Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) covers wholesale electricity sales in SWIS between sellers and buyersThe WEM facilitates competition and private investment allowing generators and retailers greater flexibility in how they sell their electricity. AEMO is responsible for operating the WEM. 

 

What is the South West Interconnected System?

Clear Energy is a regulated electricity retailer within the SWIS, a network of systems including Kalbarri, Kalgoorlie to Albany and in between. The SWIS makes up approximately 94% of Western Australia’s power market. This network is maintained by Western Power, however, the electricity is supplied from retailers such as Clear Energy. 

 

Contestable and Non-contestable Customers

The market is currently segmented into contestable (less than 50 MW annual consumption) and non-contestable customers (above 50 MW annual consumption). It is a common assumption that non-contestable customers are required to purchase all of their electricity through Synergy and only contestable customer can choose their electricity retailer. The introduction of the WEM in 2006 has brought greater competition in the form of both new generators and new retailers.

 

How is Clear Energy different?

At Clear Energy, given we build generation behind the meter, we are able to offer solutions for customers regardless of whether they are contestable.

 

Market Reform 

A lot is happening in the WA electricity market – prices are rising (we have seen increases in excess of 16% over the past 3-years), communities are pushing to adopt clean energy and network congestion has effectively reached saturation.

We have seen increasing adoption of renewables and the emergence of new technologies, and a change in the market from a predominantly centralised supply chain to a de-centralised supply chain with the increasing uptake of distributed energy resources.

As a result of the evolving landscape, the WA State Government initiated a new round of energy reform and announced – The Energy Transformation Strategy in March 2019.

The Energy Transformation Taskforce are responsible for overseeing the delivery of the Strategy.

The Strategy recognises that the traditional model, based on centralised energy generation, is not fit to support future energy use or the 21st-century power system.

 

DER Roadmap

One of the first deliverables for the Taskforce was the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap published on 4 April 2020.

DER, as defined in the Roadmap are “smaller-scale devices that can either use, generate or store electricity, and form a part of the local distribution system, serving homes and businesses.” It follows that DER includes devices such as solar, batteries, electric vehicles and microgrids.

The Roadmap recognises that while the intermittent nature of DER is currently presenting challenges to the traditional system, as DER become increasingly available and increasingly adopted by consumers, DER can provide a solution if they become part of the orchestrated management of the power system. It, therefore, outlines a path for integrating DER into the system.

This reform is consistent with our business model, which integrates DER and de-centralises the electricity supply chain.