The federal and NSW state governments have invested $7 million in a project that aims to develop new ways to operate the existing energy grid.
The goal of the Evolve project, a consortium of nine partners led by software development company Zepben and The Australian National University, is to optimise the use the network’s capacity to carry energy, as more energy devices – such as solar panels and batteries – come into the network.
Zepben Managing Director Bill Tarlinton said the current electricity system was designed for centralised, large-scale generation, but the CSIRO estimates 40 per cent of consumers will have rooftop solar in the next decade.
“The energy system is changing, with more and more customers installing rooftop solar, batteries and smart appliances, and with electric vehicles likely to be adopted in larger numbers in the near future,” Tarlinton said.
“These new devices are creating new challenges and opportunities for future electricity network management.”
Dr Lachlan Blackhall, head of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU, said the project will develop and deliver capabilities to allow electricity network operators to work with the market players to identify and alleviate congestion in the grid.
“Our project partners include aggregators – the service providers who control consumer level solar panels, batteries and other devices, and network operators including Ausgrid, Essential Energy and Endeavour Energy,” Blackhall said.
“Our project team will be working with organisations that distribute electricity to more than half the Australian population.”
ANU Provost Professor Mike Calford said investment by both government and industry is essential to the success of research projects that are aiming to solve some of the nation’s greatest challenges.
“Our researchers have the expertise to analyse problems and develop solutions in the lab, but for workable and adaptable solutions, we need to be working with industry and governments,” Calford said.
“This project is an excellent example of three key sectors coming together to deliver the long-term solutions for designing the infrastructure needed to address this significant challenge.”