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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    University of Technology Sydney

    Location

    Sydney, New South Wales

    ARENA Program

    Advancing Renewables Program

  • Start Date

    August 2016

    Status

    Past

  • Project Partners
    Reposit Power, Essential Energy, AusNet Services, Australian PV Institute, United Energy
    This DER project was completed on 13 September 2019.

Summary

The Networks Renewed project investigated pathways to increase the amount of renewable energy in Australia by paving the way for small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage installations to improve the quality and reliability of electricity in Australia’s distribution networks.

Two demonstrations focussing on voltage management, recruited 90 customers in three locations across NSW and VIC under new commercial models for network-related businesses.

Need

There is an emerging perception that small-scale solar PV may negatively impact the performance of Australian electricity networks by increasing voltage variability. Networks Renewed addressed this perception and clearly demonstrated that solar PV and batteries can be a valuable resource for businesses that manage electricity networks; changing the problem into a solution.

Last updated
17 November 2020

Project innovation

Networks Renewed pioneered an innovative use of mass distributed solar and storage in Australia. The Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS partnered with electricity network businesses Essential Energy in NSW and AusNet Services and United Energy in VIC, Reposit Power, the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI), and the NSW and VIC Governments, to bring the idea of a truly smart electricity grid closer to reality.

Two commercial-scale demonstrations of controlled solar PV and energy storage were implemented – one in the mid north coast of NSW and the other in Yackandandah, VIC. The project tapped into new, ‘smart’ inverter technologies that can better control PV panels and storage, offering a suite of new business opportunities.

The project examined technical alternatives for providing network support using smart inverters, and the value propositions that will make them attractive to businesses and customers. The practical, market-scale demonstrations were large enough to achieve meaningful improvements to power quality and generate sufficient market revenues to develop a business case for future projects.

Benefit

A key outcome of the project is a practical understanding of the commercial value of new smart inverter technology.

The broader benefits to Australia are greater opportunities for distributed generation, such as residential solar, to integrate into and support the national grid. This will help Australia realise its goals of renewable, affordable and reliable electricity generation.

The project’s industry-led approach to investigation and demonstration, through partnerships with DNSPs in each state, contributed to its success.

Read more about distributed energy resources.

Results

The demonstrations proved that both solar and batteries can support network voltage. Its success opens the door to new business opportunities based on the premise that rooftop solar can be an asset to everyone. The overall value of the project was in bringing DNSP partners one step closer to being comfortable with replacing traditional network-side solutions with distributed energy options.

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
  • determining the network value of voltage support provided by customers.

Future work

With the project’s success, all Australian network businesses now have a workable precedent for using smart inverters for network support services themselves, or contracting third parties to provide these services independently. This was socialised with different network service providers through knowledge sharing roadshows at the end of the project.

The next step is progressing this technical solution to a viable mainstream option. Networks Renewed created a practical understanding of all the moving parts needed for customers to provide support for the electricity grid Australia needs.

Last updated 17 November 2020

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