Australia university to develop rooftop solar and DER optimisation tools

rooftop solar
Image credit: ARENA

The University of New South Wales has secured funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to develop tools to optimise the management of rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources.

The university will leverage the $981,000 in funding to implement its $2.1 million research and development initiative aimed at coming up with new tools to manage the changing behaviours of solar and DERs while maintaining the reliability of the National Electricity Market.

For instance, the study will focus on how rooftop solar and DERs can be utilised to respond to contingency events such as the sudden loss of a large generator or transmission line.

The university will be partnering with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and solar monitoring company Solar Analytics to improve data capture, assess inverter behaviour, inform the development of new standards and set up tools and frameworks for long term monitoring of solar and DER asset behaviour.

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Inverter compliance rates will be assessed, possible improvements to existing inverter standards identified and new tools to more effectively operate a safe, secure and reliable power system will be provided to AEMO.

Distributed energy in Australia

The study follows AEMO finding out that the increased penetration of rooftop solar is causing grid reliability challenges on its network. With the penetration of rooftop solar expected to increase over the next five years, more energy security challenges are anticipated to be experienced on the grid.

Tools to be developed as part of the study will enable real-time monitoring of rooftop solar assets and other DERs in real-time, a development the AEMO will utilise to make informed decisions regarding the management of the grid.

Australia’s Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap estimates that by 2050 DERs may contribute up to 45% of the country’s electricity generation capacity.

The Australian government is aware of the role DERs will play in accelerating the energy transition hence the creation of the Distributed Energy Integration Programme (DEIP), to bring together government agencies, market authorities, industry and consumer associations to maximise the value of consumer DERs for the reliability of the main grid. 

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said UNSW’s project was a great opportunity to understand how rooftop solar reacts in contingency events and how it can be improved upon.

“Integrating renewables into the electricity system is a key priority for ARENA, so the tools being developed throughout the project will help to ensure that Australia’s record-breaking solar installations continue to be of benefit to the grid and in helping with system security.”

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