Parts of Victoria’s electricity grid will soon receive a technical overhaul thanks to a $2.2 million trial which will explore how existing infrastructure can effectively integrate with solar power and other new technologies.
The trial, Creating Solar Friendly Neighbourhoods, is being developed through a partnership between leading energy infrastructure company AusNet Services, Victorian electricity distributor Jemena, the University of New South Wales and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)- which will contribute $1.1 million in funding to the project as part of their Advancing Renewables Program.
Jemena’s Managing Director Frank Tudor said the trial was the first of its kind in Australia.
“We know customers are keen to install solar panels on their homes, but that they will continue to look to the existing electricity grid for power during times when the sun isn’t shining,” said Mr Tudor.
“This trial will use international technology to make a number of technical changes to existing infrastructure so that a greater number of people can install solar power on their homes while maintaining the reliability of the electricity grid.”
The trial also aims to address issues currently being held with customer solar panels working inefficiently and limits being placed on the amount of energy they can export back to the grid due to technical constraints.
Roughly 10 per cent of Jemena’s customers already have rooftop solar installed but new estimates suggest that figure could be as high as 40 per cent within 10 years.
The trial will target 106 customers in Greenvale which forms a part of Jemena’s electricity distribution network and will target 71 customers in Montrose which forms a part of AusNet Services electricity distribution network.
The two-year trial will roll-out three technologies and intelligent control systems that will increase the distributed energy resources hosting capacity of networks, including:
- A dynamic phase switching of customer loads on low voltage feeders to help mitigate the localised voltage surge caused by increasing solar.
- A dynamic power compensation to adjust the output voltage and mitigate the load unbalance challenge at the source distribution transformer.
- Battery energy storage with Virtual Synchronous Generator capability to mitigate power quality and stability challenges caused by very high penetration of solar.