Investigation into Voltage Management Technologies for Future Australian Suburban Distribution Networks
Purpose of project
Low Voltage distribution networks are undergoing unprecedented changes with consumers rapidly adopting rooftop solar PV, battery technologies, and electric vehicles. To enable the continued integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) and to ensure distribution networks remain safe, reliable, and efficient, a combination of network and non-network solutions needs to be deployed. Among various solutions, dSTATCOM (a power electronic device, Distribution-scale static synchronous compensator) has been shown as an effective method to increase DER hosting capacity and delay the need for more costly physical augmentation of the network.
This project utilised a novel solution to manage challenges introduced by DERs in power distribution networks. It leveraged Planet Ark Power’s unique power electronics and software solution, eleXsys, as the core element and analysed novel LV and MV voltage management techniques for zone substation, supporting 100% penetration of distributed energy resources. It also carried out a comprehensive analysis of the network hosting capacity improvements using eleXsys technology.
The findings of this report demonstrate how severe the voltage management and curtailment issues will become if left unchecked as well as which voltage management solutions work best and the extent of the impact that they would have if applied at specific levels. The results also demonstrate that thermal rating violations will be also an emerging issue with high penetration of DERs.
Impact of project
The trends in the severity of emerging voltage management and curtailment issues that are revealed by this study will inform distribution network service providers, who are the relevant stakeholders in this area, as to the timescale within which they will likely need to act to rectify them. The insights into how effective the three different voltage management solutions are will also inform them as to the volume of these solutions that would need to be deployed in the years ahead.
The emergence of thermal rating violations that will be simultaneous with the emergence of voltage management and curtailment issues was an interesting finding from this study. Future work will therefore focus on the optimal mixtures of re-conductoring, transformer upgrades, LV area splitting, on-load tap changer transformer deployment, static synchronous compensator deployment and neighbourhood battery storage that could address both voltage management and thermal rating violation issues as needed in typical Australian distribution networks. It will also ensure that network service providers can plan cost-effective future network upgrades that will address these issues ahead of time, rather than reacting to them after they have already emerged.
Project partners – industry and research
Monash University (Lead), PlanetArk Power
Industry Reference Group members
Ausgrid, Climate-KIC, CSIRO, eleXsys Energy, Energy Consumers Australia, Energy Queensland, Western Power