The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has awarded A$9.6m ($6.7m) in funding to 12 projects and studies to further integrate distributed energy resources (DER) into the electricity system.
For the five pilot projects led by Zeppelin Bend, Jemena, SA Power Networks, Solar Analytics and RACV, ARENA is providing A$7.21m ($5.1m), where each project trials novel approaches to increase network hosting capacity.
The pilot projects are carried out with the objective of allowing the system to operate securely whilst maximizing the ability of distributed energy, such as solar PV, to provide energy to the grid.
Furthermore, A$2.38m ($1.6m) has been allocated for funding 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 are aimed a investigating how to successfully integrate high penetrations of DER into the grid and into the energy market.
DER includes 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 along with relevant enablers like smart meters and data services.
Among the five projects, the Evolve project led by Zeppelin Bend has been funded with the NSW Government, which is expected to perform software trials on the NSW grid. The software is expected to act as a traffic controller and allows sending signals to DER assets to increase or decrease their energy output to manage grid congestion.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Rooftop solar, batteries and other customer-related energy technologies are set to play a key role in shaping the future energy system. It is projected that up to half of all electricity could be generated by consumers within the next few decades, up from around 4% today.
“This is a huge change and will require innovations in software, hardware and thinking to achieve the best outcome for consumers. ARENA is extremely excited to be funding some of the best experts in the energy sector to build network hosting capacity technology and further understand the impacts of DER and to identify, and ultimately solve, the technical limits of our electricity grid.”
ARENA has made an announcement on the initiative Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) last year. The present funding initiative complements the ARENA’s pre-existing initiative that made the energy industry working together to enhance the potential of consumer owned energy resources.