New solar and inverter trial to improve grid power quality

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures will work with more than 150 households in NSW and Victoria to test how smart inverter technology can work with rooftop solar and residential battery storage to improve power quality on the grid. 

The trial will look at how rooftop solar and home energy storage can be used to cut costs and improve the stability and reliability of Australia’s electricity supply. 

The Networks Renewed trial program is being funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the tune of $1.87 million. 

If successful, the program will not only demonstrate how solar and battery storage can help support reliable energy networks, but also accelerate adoption of rooftop solar. 

According to the researchers, Australian households are already world leaders in rooftop solar adoption, and there is now fast-growing interest in residential battery storage.  

However, there is concern that as rooftop solar systems continue to pump power into the grid, the power networks lack the means to ensure the quality of supply. 

For safe, reliable and steady supply, power has to be kept within tight voltage and quality limits. Solar and batteries can sometimes create power quality problems for the network if they are not managed well. 

The addition of smart inverters has the potential to improve the stability of the grid, allowing not just a decentralised approach to energy generation, but also providing support to vulnerable parts of the grid, reducing the need for costly new network infrastructure. 

As part of the Networks Renewed program, the Institute for Sustainable Futures will work with electricity network businesses – Essential Energy in New South Wales and United Energy in Victoria – storage software start-up Reposit Power, solar technology provider SMA Australia, the Australian Photovoltaic Institute, and the NSW and Victorian Governments. 

NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, says the trial will allow further testing of how the combination of solar and energy storage can be a win-win for consumers and power utilities. 

"This innovative trial under NSW conditions will help build the knowledge we need to accelerate our pathway to an advanced energy system. We want to ensure our solar and battery options further empower consumers to drive down their energy costs while also ensuring the security and reliability of our grid," Mr Roberts said.