University of Canterbury project recognised for integrating renewables into power grid


A team of researchers led by the University of Canterbury’s Electric Power Engineering Centre (UC EPECentre) has received MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)’s Gold Status for the second year running for the GREEN Grid (Gathering Renewable Energy in Electricity Networks) research project.

Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA) Chief Executive Peter Berry praised the research as a real combined academia–industry project.

The team includes researchers and postgraduate students from UC EPECentre, UC Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE) and is led by associate professor Alan Wood (previously led by Dr Allan Miller).

Ten distribution companies, including Orion, Unison, Powerco and WEL Networks, have been involved in developing this guide together with energy regulator the Electricity Authority and national grid operator Transpower.

The aim is to model future energy demand and generation trends, to ensure New Zealand has a consistent supply of reliable and affordable energy.

Furthermore, the team aim to ensure the grid will have the capacity to balance and manage different types of supply and demand, accounting for the increased household demand for electric vehicle charging.

The programme works with various end users and government, to ensure a nationwide approach and consistent application of practices across both solar and distributed energy systems.

The programme has also helped educate the public with the energywiseTM solar calculator which was developed in partnership with the UC EPECentre and released by EECA (Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority).

The solar calculator incorporates solar data sourced from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research through its SolarView service and is designed to assess the value of a solar electricity system for a household.

Based on details about the house, energy usage, and how the person intends to pay for a solar electricity system, the tool then estimates the value of installing a solar electricity system at the house, including the estimated total earnings (if any) over the course of 25 years, and the estimated number of years that it would take for you to earn back your initial investment.

The research programme was established in 2012 with the aim of future-proofing New Zealand’s electricity supply in view of increasing renewable energy distributed generation and new technologies like electric vehicles and smart appliances.