There is an emerging perception that solar PV is troublesome for the performance of Australian electricity networks by potentially increasing voltage variability. The Networks Renewed trial aimed to address that perception by clearly demonstrating how solar PV and batteries can instead be a valuable resource for the businesses who manage electricity networks; changing the problem into a solution.
Supplying safe, reliable power to our homes is a complex task, particularly when it comes to managing voltage. Managing voltage is not a new problem due to our long power lines and different demands for electricity. However, it has become a bigger issue recently as more solar systems are connected to the grid. When solar generation is at its highest in the middle of the day, demand can be at its lowest (while people are at work), leading to a widening ‘voltage envelope’ that is difficult for the network business to resolve. This can limit the amount of solar that can be easily connected to the grid.
The innovation: Networks Renewed
The Networks Renewed trial aimed to address that perception by clearly demonstrating how solar PV and batteries can instead be a valuable resource for the businesses who manage electricity networks; changing the problem into a solution.
The project had two phases: a pilot-scale demonstration (2017-18) to test the technical voltage control capability at a small scale; followed by a market-scale demonstration to ramp up the deployment and deliver significant network impact (2018-19). 90 customers were recruited to the trial under innovative commercial models with three network business partners – Essential Energy in NSW, and United Energy and AusNet Services in Victoria. The control and integration technology was provided by two new energy businesses: Reposit Power and Mondo.
The trial proved that both solar and batteries can support network voltage. Its success opens the door to a suite of new business opportunities based on the premise that rooftop solar can be an asset to everyone.
The other major outcomes were:
- Proving realistic alternatives to network-side voltage solutions
- Making voltage support services from solar and batteries accessible to network businesses
- Obtaining good results for participating customers, and
- Determining the network value of voltage support provided by customers.
Read about the 2018 pilot
It's now time to move this technical solution to a viable mainstream option. This diagram shows all the moving parts needed for customers to provide their support for the electricity grid Australia needs.
This report outlines the business case for behind the meter inverter control for regulating voltage. It provides a sample business case for demonstrating that the use of behind the meter inverter control can be an economic solution to regulating voltages. For each demonstration, the business cases used are described. The framework for doing this was built around the business model canvas – a method that provides a compact overview regarding all aspects of a business model.
Networks Renewed - Public Report - Technical Analysis (January 2017)
Press releases New trial to unlock grid value in household solar and batteries, UTS Newsroom, 22 November 2016 Making our electricity grids smarter, ARENA, 22 November 2016
ARENA, ISF to trial solar-storage-smart inverter on 150 Australian homes, Clean Technology Business Review, 25 November 2016
ARENA and ISF to trial solar-storage-smart inverter on 150 Australian homes, Energy Storage News, 24 November 2016
New trial to unlock grid value in household solar and batteries, Energy Source and Distribution, 24 November 2016
Teaching solar to sing in harmony with the grid: trial tests inverters, Ecogeneration, 23 November 2016
Smart inverter trial aims to support grid, Utility Magazine, 23 November 2016
For project inquiries, contact Chris Dunstan.