As the finger-pointing and politics unravel in the wake of Monday night's Grid Emergency, one truth has slowly been gaining currency - that leaving generation to the big gentailers doesn't serve the country well.
Those that had their power cut on Monday night wouldn't have noticed much if they had battery storage - they could still keep the lights on, the house warm, and make a cup of tea while watching Netflix. But that is only half the story.
In the midst of the emergency, Forest Lodge Orchard in Otago was playing its part in reducing demand and exporting excess energy back into the grid - and could have done more if the right protocols were in place.
"We believe it was our civic duty to export, and we could have exported much more if there had been a protocol in place to request us to do so. We believe that being available to support the grid at the right time and place should be financially rewarded in the same way generators are paid to generate power. DER could become a significant revenue stream for businesses and encourage more companies to install batteries and export capability."
You can see in the screen grab, Forest Lodge Orchard was taking nearly 19 kW from their battery at the time, which was enough to power their own home's 4 kW consumption, as well as provide power for another 3-4 homes of the same size, while also not contributing to power demand at the time.
"We are under no illusion that Forest Lodge made much difference, but if we were one of 10000 SMEs supporting the grid, we may have been a small part of the solution to avoid power cuts in the first place."
What if Forest Lodge was one of 10,000 SMEs doing the same? What if they were one of 300,000 homes and businesses managing their demand and reinforcing the grid?
If New Zealand embraces DER, we have the chance to not only reduce our carbon-emissions, critical to reversing rising global temperatures, but we can build resilience in the system by reducing load from the grid and level off the impact of supply issues and increased demand.
The traditional energy market alone cannot meet the needs of our current situation. We must look to solutions like DER to provide zero-carbon energy generation that can help us manage the energy production challenges we face now and in the future.
This is Tomorrow's Energy Today - we have the technology, now we need to political will to make it a reality.