The trials process
The Energy Innovation Toolkit is currently accepting applications for trial waivers and trial rule changes. This page explains how the trial process will work, including how to apply for a trial and how trial applications will be assessed.
The trial application process
Trials will be governed by:
- The Australian Energy Regulator
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) regulates electricity networks and covered gas pipelines in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. The AER sets the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks. The AER also enforces the laws for the National Electricity Market (NEM) and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia, as well as monitoring and reporting on the conduct of market participants and the effectiveness of competition.'s (AER) Regulatory Sandboxing Trial Projects Guideline.
- The Essential Services Commission
The Essential Services Commission (ESC) is an independent regulator that promotes the long-term interests of Victorian consumers with respect to the price, quality and reliability of essential services. In Victoria, the ESC has responsibility for licensing and licence exemptions in the electricity and gas markets. The ESC licenses various activities including electricity and gas retail and distribution, electricity transmission, and electricity generation. The ESC also makes and enforces customer protections and other rules predominately in the electricity and gas retail and distribution markets in Victoria, where the National Energy Retail Law (NERL) and the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) don't apply.’s (ESC) Trial Project Guideline (specific to projects operating under Victorian energy frameworks.)
Anyone considering applying to launch a trial should familiarise themselves with these Guidelines, which explain our approach to key issues like assessment of applications against information and eligibility requirements, proponent reporting obligations, trial duration, extensions, and trial project monitoring.
Because trials require complex consultation across the entire energy sector, and trial project applications are resource-intensive to assess, we ask that you first contact us for a pre-application meeting to discuss your proposed trial before lodging a trial project application.
Trial rule changes will be facilitated by the AEMC. Information about trial rule changes can be provided by the AEMC upon request, or made available on their website from time to time. More information about the trial rule change
Applying for a trial
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with our guidance and have discussed your suitability to apply with our team, applying for a trial is a five-step process.
Step one - Create a User Profile in our Portal
After discussing your project with us, set up a user profile in the Energy Innovation Toolkit Portal. The Portal is a secure data lodgement point and case management system that will allow the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the Australian Energy Market Commission
- Note: although the Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supports the global transition to net zero emissions by accelerating the pace of pre-commercial innovation, to the benefit of Australian consumers, businesses and workers. Since 2012, ARENA has supported 612 projects with $1.81 billion in grant funding, unlocking a total investment of almost $7.9 billion in Australia’s renewable energy industry. ARENA’s expertise, deep understanding of the renewable energy sector and willingness to fund innovative and ground-breaking projects mean it provides a pathway to commercialisation for many new technologies and businesses that would otherwise struggle to get off the ground or be potentially lost to overseas markets.(ARENA) is an Energy Innovation Toolkit Project Partner, ARENA will not have a role in assessing trial applications or otherwise facilitating trial projects, and will not have access to the Portal. Instead, ARENA will direct innovators to the Energy Innovation Toolkit to ensure that their projects are supported with informal regulatory guidance and, where appropriate, trials.
Step two - Lodge your application through the Portal
Lodge your trial project application using our online application forms. You can also upload any supporting information. The application form for trial waivers will be administered by the AER. The application form for trial rule changes will be administered by the AEMC.
- For more information on using the Portal and filling out our online application forms, please read our Energy Innovation Toolkit Portal Services Guide.
Step three - We consider your application
Consideration, consultation and assessment is undertaken by the AER, the ESC or the AEMC (depending on the application type). At this stage, the Energy Innovation Toolkit will consider whether your application meets information requirements, publicly consult on your proposal, and assess whether your project satisfies the eligibility requirements contained in the Energy Rules and the innovative trial principles
Step four - Development of tailored conditions
If your application is considered to satisfy requirements, the Energy Innovation Toolkit will develop the conditions of your waiver, trial rule change, or Victorian trial waiver, including how long the trial will last and how consumers will remain protected.
Step five - A trial occurs
At this stage you can proceed with the trial, in accordance with trial waiver, rule change or Victorian trial waiver conditions and the AER's reporting requirements.
- For more information on how trials will be delivered, including application assessment and consultation processes, information and eligibility requirements, consumer protections and proponent obligations, please see the AER's Regulatory Sandboxing Trial Projects Guidelines and the Essential Services Commission’s Trial Project Guidelines (specific to projects operating under Victorian energy frameworks.)
The Energy Innovation Toolkit aims to determine trial applications within six months from the point at which we notify a proponent that their application has met information requirements and has been accepted.
- The AER notes in our Trial Projects Guidelines Explanatory Statement that our position is that we will aim to finalise trial waiver
The Regulatory Sandboxing trial waiver function allows the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to grant a time limited trial waiver for eligible trial projects, exempting an innovator from having to comply with specified rules for a period of time to allow a trial to proceed. The Victorian Regulatory Sandboxing trial waiver function allows Essential Services Commission (ESC) to issue trial waivers providing time limited relief from Victorian energy frameworks. For more information, please see our trials page and the AER's Trial Projects Guidelines.applications within three months. However, since it’s difficult to know how long applications will take to assess until we have some experience, the Trial Projects Guideline provides for a determination timeframe of six months.
- The ESC will aim to determine trial waiver applications within six months following receipt of a complete application. Applications may be determined earlier if they meet the information requirements and the application has been accepted.
We will generally assess applications on a first-in, first-served basis. However, when demand for the service is high, we will prioritise applications based on the criteria listed below. You will not be required to demonstrate that you meet these criteria as part of your application.
- Projects focussed on addressing existing and emerging operational challenges in the National Electricity Market
The National Electricity Market (NEM) spans Australia’s eastern and south-eastern coasts and comprises of five interconnected states that also act as price regions: Queensland, New South Wales (including the Australian Capital Territory), South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not connected to the NEM, primarily due to the distance between networks. The NEM’s transmission network carries power from electricity generators to large industrial energy users and local electricity distributors across the five regions. These assets are owned and operated by state governments, or private businesses..
- Projects that have consumer or local community support.
- Projects that are similar to other applications being progressed and that can be grouped together.
- Projects that have cross-industry support, for example (but not limited to) trials that stem from the Distributed Energy Integration Program.
- Projects benefiting consumers experiencing vulnerability.
- Projects that are closer to being ready to commence.
Read more about the kinds of regulatory relief we offer, knowledge sharing arrangements, and how our Project Partners will work together to facilitate trials.
If you think your project is suitable for a trial, meet with our team to discuss your application.