UNSW starts project to research impacts of rooftop solar systems to the power grid

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is partnering with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and solar monitoring company Solar Analytics on a project that will provide insights into the optimal management of rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources on the broader electricity network. Project lead Naomi Stringer from UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering says Australia’s deployment of rooftop solar photovoltaic is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but there is important engineering work necessary to effectively integrate them across the power system: »Australia is now leading the world in home solar PV installations, with more than 2.5 million systems across the country. How these systems behave when sitting on our rooftops can have material impacts on the broader electricity grid.« Very occasionally major disturbances occur due to unexpected events such as lightning strikes and equipment failures.
Despite the growing role and potential impact, there is very little data showing how solar PV behaves in the field during such events. According to the scientists, »impacts of rooftop solar can be particularly acute during disturbance events when the grid is already strained, posing new risks to power system security. However, there are also important opportunities to harness rooftop solar capabilities to help restore power system security.«
The new project will aim to tackle the critical questions of power system security by harnessing a large amount of roof system data for analysis. It will develop new data sets and data driven analysis techniques. Project partners will collaborate with stakeholders across the industry including inverter and battery manufacturers to investigate novel data streams.
The project findings will be used by AEMO to improve planning and operation of the grid power system. It aims to ensure that conservative measures that might adversely impact PV system owners and the public more generally are avoided.
The AUD 2.2 million (USD 1.67 million) project has received AUD 981,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) under its Advancing Renewables Program and will run over three years.
© PHOTON

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