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ARENA funding study to tackle weak and unstable energy grids

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding the Grid Innovation Hub at Monash University with $495.680 to conduct a desktop study that will explore how to manage unstable and weak parts of the electricity grid.

Grid Innovation Hub researchers will conduct the desktop study to address issues and approaches related to linking clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, and battery projects into weaker sections of the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The $1.3 million project will use the West Murray region of the North West Victorian network as a case study due to the existing system-stability issues facing the region.

Outcomes and outputs from the study will be applicable to other Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) across the NEM such as the Central West Orana REZ in NSW.

The study is funded by stakeholders which will include in-kind support including grid inverter technology provider ABB, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and AusNet Services.

The research will examine grid stability problems and discuss a range of strategies for handling them, including equipment positioning and operations such as synchronous condensers, wind and solar farms, and battery systems integrating advanced inverter systems.

The project will facilitate an enhanced understanding of weak grid areas, giving NEM stakeholders the opportunity to understand and explore solutions to current and emerging problems.

Key outcomes of the study include improving the understanding of grid connection risk mitigation approaches for renewable developers, increasing hosting capacity in weak networks and fostering a better understanding of power system security and reliability when operating with higher renewable energy shares.

“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.

“Australia’s renewable energy future will use decentralised energy sources in areas of high winds and lots of sunshine – and these areas tend to be remote from cities, where the grid is weak. Even with the strengthened interconnections foreseen in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, the problem of weak grids in remote areas will continue to challenge large renewable investments.”

Darren Miller, CEO ARENA.

“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.”

Dr Behrooz Bahrani, Director of the Grid Innovation Hub.

“Australia has the technical capability to operate our power system with solar and wind generation contributing up to 75 per cent of our energy at times. AEMO looks forward to supporting this important government-funded project that will contribute to maintaining system security in a transitioning National Electricity Market with a high share of renewable resources.”

Audrey Zibelman, CEO and managing director AEMO.

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