Jemena is leading a Creating Solar Friendly Neighbourhoods trial which is exploring how existing electricity infrastructure can better work with future growth of solar power and other new technologies.
The trial is taking place in Greenvale, Victoria and will run from November 2019 to mid-2021.
The trial is an alliance between Jemena, AusNet Services, and University of NSW, Sydney. It is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program, and Hume City Council.
Why are we conducting this trial?
The existing infrastructure of the electricity grid is experiencing increasing pressure as more customers install rooftop solar, and soon more customers will be charging their electric vehicles. The electricity distribution grid is designed to transmit electricity from central power stations, not from distributed ‘power stations’ in the form of rooftop solar systems. In addition, solar has variable generation characteristics due to the amount of sun available at different times of the year, cloud cover, and shading that sometimes occurs during the day which can further affect the quality and reliability of electricity supply.
The Greenvale trial area has been chosen because of a reasonably high uptake of solar. Around 25% of Jemena’s customers in Greenvale have rooftop solar compared with an overall average of 10% for the whole network. This high penetration of solar generation is already affecting the network and is hindering further uptake of solar generation in the area.
What are the benefits?
The trial will provide benefits to 110 Jemena customers in Greenvale when three intelligent control technologies are installed:
- Existing solar customers will be able to feed more excess power into the grid.
- More customers will be able to add rooftop solar generation with less restrictions.
- Improvement in reliability of supply.
- More local supply during high usage times.
The learnings from this trial will help Jemena to plan for future integration of intelligent technologies with the existing electricity grid, benefiting all customers in Jemena’s network in the future.
What new technologies will be trialled?
To better meet the increasing energy demand, maintain quality and reliability of supply, and utilise excess power generated by rooftop solar during the day, this trial aims to introduce three intelligent control technologies:
- Dynamic phase switching diverting solar power to adjoining powerline phases to balance voltage allowing more customers to install rooftop solar, and to feed more renewable energy to the grid.
- Dynamic power compensation to automatically adjust voltages and currents at the supply source (transformers) to optimise asset usage, increase efficiency, and decrease the likelihood of power outages.
- Grid battery to store excess solar-generated power for use during high usage times.
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