Integrating renewables

Powercor is using a world-first system to squeeze more integrate more renewables onto it’s existing network, potentially saving wind and solar farms millions of dollars in connection costs.

Working with industry partners, Powercor developed the real-time solution, known as the High Voltage Distributed Energy Resource Management System (HV-DERMS), which allows new renewable generators to access existing network capacity more efficiently without requiring poles and wires upgrades.

The system will provide future generators with access based on the dynamic capacity of the network, rather than its worst-case capability, and will effectively allow more clean energy projects to connect to the existing network.

HV-DERMS started coming online in March 2022 and now includes 36 existing wind and solar generators totalling 1.07GW of capacity in the system.

We believe this is the first time a distribution network has adopted this level of real time dynamic control for large scale renewables.

- Andrew Dinning - Head of Network Planning

The system will also reduce down-time for existing generators, helping to minimise disruption from outages or routine maintenance.

Powercor’s Head of Network Planning, Andrew Dinning, said the system was supporting Victoria’s clean energy transition and carbon reduction targets by enabling more solar and wind connections within the capability of existing assets, with flexible exports.

“The system allows us to more easily and reliably control generation at all hours of the day to maximise both export and reliability if, for example, extreme weather conditions impact the network or we need to undertake critical maintenance.”

It allows the network to operate safely and can still give generators a level of export during planned outages, something that only had limited availability previously.

The system also allows the automatic and rapid restoration of generation following planned works, which is important to maximise our customers’ ability to generate.

Enabling more renewable energy generation to be integrated is fundamental to the expanding role that distribution networks like Powercor are playing in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The transformation of the NEM demands that networks enable all forms of distributed energy including both residential systems and large-scale generators, to deliver a greater proportion of energy from renewable sources.

At the same, time Powercor is responsible for maintaining the system security and network stability in coordination with the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Mr Dinning said Powercor is already planning significant investments in new technology and innovation to expand its network capabilities and customer choices, in line with its role as a distribution system operator.

“This is part of our work to unlock the full capacity of our networks,” Mr Dinning said.

“It’s through projects like HV-DERMS that we’re acting to maximise utilisation of our existing network for the benefit of generators and for our customers.”

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