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Local projects awarded in ARENA's $10m distributed energy funding round

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today awarded $9.6 million in funding to 12 projects and studies to further integrate distributed energy resources (DER) into the electricity system.

ARENA is providing $7.21 million to five pilot projects led by Zeppelin Bend, Jemena, SA Power Networks, Solar Analytics and RACV. Each project will trial novel approaches to increasing network hosting capacity with the objective of allowing the system to operate securely whilst maximising the ability of distributed energy, such as solar PV, to provide energy to the grid.

A further $2.38 million has also been allocated to seven studies led by CitiPower & Powercor, Dynamic Limits, University of Tasmania, CSIRO, Oakley Greenwood, the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne. The studies will investigate how to successfully integrate high penetrations of DER into the grid and into the energy market.

DER encompasses behind-the-meter technologies such as rooftop solar, home batteries, inverters, controllable loads both in homes and commercial and industrial facilities, electric vehicle charging points, smart appliances and systems (such as fridges, air conditioning systems, hot water heaters and pool pumps) as well as relevant enablers such as smart meters and data services.

Local expertise awarded

Among the five projects funded is the Evolve project led by Zeppelin Bend (Zepben), funded with the NSW Government, which will see software trialled on the NSW grid that will act as a traffic controller able to send signals to DER assets to increase or decrease their energy output to manage grid congestion.

Zepben Managing Director Bill Tarlinton said the current electricity system was designed for centralised, large-scale generation, but the CSIRO estimates 40 per cent of consumers will have rooftop solar in the next decade.

“The energy system is changing, with more and more customers installing rooftop solar, batteries and smart appliances, and with electric vehicles likely to be adopted in larger numbers in the near future,” Mr Tarlinton said.

“These new devices are creating new challenges and opportunities for future electricity network management.”

Dr Lachlan Blackhall, Head of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU, said the project will develop and deliver capabilities to allow electricity network operators to work with the market players to identify and alleviate congestion in the grid.

“Our project partners include aggregators – the service providers who control consumer level solar panels, batteries and other devices, and network operators including Ausgrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy,” Dr Blackhall said.

“Our project team will be working with organisations that distribute electricity to more than half the Australian population.”

A study on community energy models was also awarded to the research team at ANU's Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program.

The study, awarded $498,650, comprises of an analysis of community energy models, where distributed generation, storage and load are not co-located behind a single meter.

It will build upon existing work and explore technical, economic, social and regulatory issues of community energy models in order to demonstrate how they can aid issues of energy quality, support DER penetration and simplify DER implementation.

Source: ARENA and Zepben (supplied)
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