$7 million funding initiative for system security

ARENA has launched a $7 million funding initiative which aims to tackle how to deliver grid stability and security services with renewable energy technologies.

These essential services – such as frequency control ancillary services (otherwise known as FCAS) – are needed to keep the frequency and voltage along the grid stable, and have traditionally been provided by fossil fuel generators.

With the share of renewable energy in the energy mix increasing and with synchronous generations such as coal-fired power plants ageing and beginning to retire, ARENA is looking a new ways to deliver these services.

Current techniques for managing system security events include requiring gas plants to curtail how much electricity is produced by solar and wind farms.

The funding initiative, which is now open for expressions of interest until 31 July, is seeking novel projects that can demonstrate how solar parks, wind farms and enabling technologies such as batteries can deliver system strength provision, FCAS, fast frequency response (FFR), inertia provision and measurement and other services that may enhance system security.

Already, ARENA has funded two stand-alone trials to demonstrate if wind turbines can deliver FCAS – a fast injection or reduction of energy to balance frequency fluctuations.

The first trial at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia over summer has successfully proven that it is technically feasible for wind farms to deliver FCAS.

The second ARENA-funded trial is now underway at Woolnorth’s Musselroe Wind Farm which sits atop Tasmania’s rugged northwest corner in which its 56 turbines provide 5 per cent of Tasmania’s yearly electrical supply. This second trial is exploring whether it is economically feasible for wind farms to provide FCAS.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said demonstrating renewables could stabilise fluctuations in frequency and voltage which could help pave the way for more renewables to join the grid.

“System security has been a key focus of industry regulators, the market operator and participants. It was also the priority of the Finkel Review,” he said.

“As our electricity system transforms from a system of centralised synchronous generators to more diversified generation that includes more and more renewables, we need to find ways to deliver power system stability and security using less fossil fuels,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“If successful, these pilot projects will save consumers money and create new revenue streams for solar, wind and battery operators,” he said.

Expressions of Interest closed on 31 July 2018.

For more information, visit the System Services funding page.