Enabling More Distributed Energy In Our Electricity Grids

Solar PV

Since mid 2019, Renew has been working with a technical Consultant and industry/consumer Steering Group on a project that considers how best to manage the future integration of solar PV and other distributed energy resources (DER) in our electricity grids. In particular, Renew is trying to understand the opportunities and costs for enabling much higher penetrations of DER in our grids over the next two decades.

This is a major piece of work. It follows on from our initial investigations into the issue in mid-2019:

https://renew.org.au/renew-magazine/solar-batteries/solar-and-high-grid-voltage/

Solar PV, as the most common DER in Australia, is reaching a point where it is starting to cause technical issues within the grid. Nationally, approximately 20% of our homes now have solar PV, however in some locations, this figure rises to well over 30%.

As a community organisation interested in the fair treatment of DER, Renew has been working to canvass issues and options with regards to its enablement in the grid, and to help inform the national debate, by:

  • identifying the key issues related to rising solar PV/DER and who they impact;
  • identifying the potential solutions to these issues and their associated costs; and
  • developing an analytical framework for identifying the optimal approach in a given situation.

Our team has now finalised a Discussion & Options paper (Consultant-led), as well as a Summary Report (Renew-led), as part of a Stage 1 of this project. The process and reports have had significant input from industry and consumer stakeholders.

The project highlighted the incredible complexity of DER-integration issues and the great deal of work that still needs to be done. It showed us conclusively that:

  • different distributors are at vastly different starting points regarding DER penetration and operational visibility, and this limited our ability to give specific guidance;
  • a more comprehensive and sophisticated approach is needed to fully consider the cost–benefit relationships between different approaches in different parts of the same network; and
  • to fully understand the benefits to consumers of DER enablement, the impact of DER on wholesale prices must be assessed.

A more comprehensive approach is needed to fully examine all issues and potential solutions; the cost–benefit relationships between different approaches in different parts of the same network; and the broader benefits to consumers from the impact of DER on energy prices. Renew has commenced working on a second Stage to this project and will be announcing details of a subsequent process in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, should you have any queries on the papers or the process to date, please feel free to email Dean (dean@renew.org.au) or Damien (damien@renew.org.au) at Renew.