Frequently Asked Questions

 

Overview

What is this trial trying to achieve?

The existing infrastructure of the energy grid is experiencing increasing pressure as more customers are installing rooftop solar, and very soon 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. 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 to:

  1. Allow more customers to install rooftop solar to feed more renewable energy to the grid by introducing dynamic phase switching
  2. Better utilise rooftop solar by introducing a grid battery to store excess solar-generated power for use by households during peak demand times.
  3. Balance the load, stabilise voltages, increase efficiency, decrease the likelihood of power outages, and allow more customers to install  rooftop solar by introducing dynamic power compensation.

What is dynamic phase switching?

When the sun is shining, rooftop solar generates lots of solar power to feed into the grid which can create over voltage. To maintain quality of supply, and to meet standard voltage levels the existing infrastructure can only allow a certain amount of energy to feed into to the grid, therefore, hindering the full utilisation of the solar power generated.

To introduce dynamic phase switching, Jemena will install smart devices on several poles in an area of Greenvale. To balance voltage, these smart devices will divert solar power generated to adjoining power line phases which then allows more solar to feed into to the grid. This enables better use of the solar power, potentially helps solar customers to reduce their electricity bills, and caters for more solar installations.

The installation of the smart devices is planned for November 2019 and may require power outages to some customers. Jemena will send a notification card to customers that are affected by the power outages.

What is dynamic power compensation?

Voltages at the supply source (distribution transformers) can only be changed manually. Installing a dynamic power compensation device to automatically adjust voltages and currents at each transformer will optimise the asset usage, increase efficiency, and decrease the likelihood of power outages.

What is a grid battery?

A grid battery is used to store excess solar feed-in power. The stored excess solar-generated power can be used to reduce peak demand on the distribution grid, resulting in deferral of grid upgrades.
The grid battery is connected to the Low Voltage system, and comes with enhanced control capabilities to evenly distribute power across the network, compared to residential batteries.

The battery housing resembles a large garden shed mounted on the ground.

FAQs for customers living in the Greenvale trial area

Why did you choose this particular area for this trial?

Around 25% of Jemena’s customers in the Greenvale trial area 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.

How do I know if I will be impacted by the trial?

If you live within the trial area of Greenvale you will receive more information in the mail.

What do I need to know if I am one of the trial customers in Greenvale?

  • You may see traffic control in certain areas in November when the smart devices are being installed on some poles.
  • About fourteen households will experience a planned power outage of up to 4 hours during the installation and will be notified by hand-delivered card in advance.
  • If you have rooftop solar, you may experience an increase of solar power feeding into to the grid. Depending on the energy plan with your energy retailer, you may or may not see a reduction in electricity bill.
  • You may experience some brief disturbances to your appliance operation (e.g. a slight light flicker or brief pause of appliance operation) that may be attributable to the operation of the new technologies. Jemena will keep such disturbances to a minimum.

Are there any benefits or impact if I am in Greenvale outside the trial suburb?

The learnings from this trial will help Jemena to plan for future integration of intelligent technologies into existing infrastructure to support the increasing use of rooftop solar, and future increase in electric vehicles while maintaining quality and reliability of supply at minimal cost. Hence, this trial will benefit all customers in Jemena’s network in the future. If you live in Greenvale, you may see traffic control during the installation of the devices on some poles.

I don’t have solar, why should a battery be put near my house?

The grid battery will have benefit for all customers supplied from the Greenvale local grid as it will reduce the peak usage of the local substation and defer its upgrade.

Why is the battery box at 3.2m x 2.6m so big?

The battery box includes the battery modules and all control equipment plus space for periodic maintenance. Jemena has worked with the supplier to “shrink” the box dimensions as far as practicable.

Are there any safety risks associated with the smart devices being installed on some poles in Greenvale?

These smart devices are designed to similar safety standards as other equipment Jemena installs in its network.

The smart devices are radio controlled and comply with Australian Communications and Media Authority standards for data communication.

Magnetic fields generated from the devices are well below the exposure limit in the international guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and further decrease with distance from the wires.

Are there any health or safety risks associated with the dynamic power compensation devised installed at the substation transformer?

The devices are just another type of switch that we already have on some poles. The devices have gone through extensive testing on personal safety. The devices incorporate radio frequency transmission complying to ACMA standards for data communication.

Associated with all electric wires, including the wiring inside houses and with your use of electrical appliances are magnetic fields. They are present wherever an electrical current flows along a wire. Magnetic fields related to this type of construction are well below the exposure limit in the international guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and further decrease with distance from the wires.

Are there any health or safety risks associated with the battery?

The battery is connected to the Low Voltage distribution system by an underground cable.

Associated with all electric wires, including the wiring inside houses and with your use of electrical appliances are magnetic fields. They are present wherever an electrical current flows along a wire. Magnetic fields related to this type of construction are well below the exposure limit in the international guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and further decrease with distance from the wires.
The battery system is equipped with sensors that monitor the battery health and functions, and shuts down and isolates the system if any abnormalities are detected. In an unlikely event of fire, the battery system is contained in an enclosure with fire detection and a suppression system.

After the trial what happens to the battery and other equipment?

When the trial ends Jemena intends to relocate the battery system to other network locations to continue the technology trial for different network conditions. The two remaining technologies would still result in significant improvement to quality and reliability to the local grid.

Will Jemena be sharing the results of this trial?

Throughout the trial period, Jemena is sharing the learnings to the electricity industry via conferences, forums and seminars. Jemena will also share the results via interim report in early 2020 and final report in early 2021.
At the end of the trial, Jemena will be publishing a summary of results which will be available on the Jemena’s website.

Do I need to opt-in to this trial?

No, customers shown in the shaded area in Greenvale are automatically included in this trial.

Can I opt-out of this trial?

Unfortunately no, this trial is an initiative to understand how to integrate smart technologies into the existing infrastructure to support the increasing use of rooftop solar. Thank you for your participation as it contributes to a more efficient use of renewable energy in the future.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any questions about this trial, please email solarfriendly@jemena.com.au.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Creating Solar Friendly Neighbourhoods trial