ARENA funds study to tackle unstable grids in Australia


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has issued AUS$495,680 in funding to ensure optimal management of unstable and weak grid networks in Australia.

The funding will be leveraged by the Grid Innovation Hub at Monash University to explore how to manage unstable and weak parts of the electricity grid.

The study will look at issues such as the integration of distributed renewable energy technologies like solar, wind and battery projects into weaker parts of the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The project will explore the siting and operations of technologies such as synchronous condensers, wind and solar farms, and integrated battery and advanced inverter systems to optimise DER management.

The West Murray region of the North West Victorian network will be used as a case study due to the region’s current system stability challenges.

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Grid Innovation Hub requires AUS$1.3 million in total to conduct the study with partners ABB, the Australian Energy Market Operator and AusNet Services.

The results of the study will be applied to other renewable energy zones across the NEM.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Australia’s power system is currently undergoing a major transformation, with the rise in inverter-connected solar and wind. These renewable resources are typically located in weaker areas of the grid, causing stability issues.

Monash’s study, while looking at North West Victoria, will aim to provide a solution for other renewable energy zones across Australia and help to increase the value delivered by renewable energy, reduce or remove barriers to renewables uptake and help to increase the overall skills and capacity in this important area.”

Dr Tony Marxsen, Chairman of the Monash Energy Institute’s Grid Innovation Hub, said: “The goal is to explore new approaches to connecting large renewable energy sources to power Australia’s future, from coast to coast, sustainably and affordably.”

Dr Behrooz Bahrani, director of the Grid Innovation Hub, said: “This project should provide insights and possibly even pre-engineered solutions to ease the burden of grid stability and security, and speed up connection approvals.”

The CEO of AEM, Audrey Zibelman, said: “Australia has the technical capability to operate our power system with solar and wind generation contributing up to 75% of our energy at times.”