According to RES and Lloyd’s Register a combination of battery storage and low carbon power generation is the solution to ‘black swan events’, as Australia re-designs its energy policy following the blackout that affected 1.7 million South Australia residents
Technology and innovation raises the game on how battery storage can be part of the world’s future energy generation mix to overcome electrical outages caused by severe storms.
“Operators are faced with a huge challenge to protect energy generation supply and demand in extreme weather conditions,” says Jeremy Moon, Head of Technical at RES in Australia. “We understand this requires investment long term and the adoption of new technology and solutions that enable sustainable energy provision now and in the future.”
Demand for energy storage is expected to increase after the entire state of South Australia lost power in September. The blackout was a widespread power outage across South Australia that occurred as a result of storm damage to the state’s electricity transmission infrastructure.
The electrical outages caused by severe storms in South Australia will mean a detailed review of power system security policy focusing on those systems in place now and planned in the future
“The electrical outages caused by severe storms in South Australia will mean a detailed review of power system security policy focusing on those systems in place now and planned in the future – including newer and flexible systems such as battery storage for security of supply,” highlights Moon.
Storms can bring devastation to energy supply and getting power back on as safely and quickly as possible for customers is any operator’s priority. RES and Lloyd’s Register – a leading provider of integrity, compliance and specialist risk consulting services – believe that new technology solutions should be planned for now by both government and operators focused on providing future-proof sustainable energy policy and supply.
“New technology solutions in energy storage can be leveraged to help operators use more cost-effective and locally produced energy, so that when outages do occur both domestic and commercial energy consumers can rely in confidence on new storage systems as a back-up to their power supply,” says Andrew Jones, Energy Services Manager, at the Australian Power Engineering division of Lloyd’s Register.
Lloyd’s Register assessed the faults described in the AEMO preliminary reports through simulations using precise computer modelling of the South Australian system provided by AEMO.
“We were interested to see if the system would behave differently if the gas power stations were replaced with inverter-based power stations,” says Jones.
Accurate and detailed inverter models from a leading global OEM were used to provide realistic results. The findings for the system mirrored reports, showing a rapid loading of the interconnection just prior to the South Australian system separation from Victoria. Once the interconnector is heavily loaded, subsequent faults result in large power surges on the interconnector in the lead up to the system collapsing. However, with inverter-based power stations in place, the simulation indicates the generators smoothly resume power after the fault, flows on the interconnection remain stable and the system survives.
As much of the network had been shut down, authorities needed to act carefully to bring it back online and provide a stable network. This was initiated in the first few hours following the start of the outage, initially using the local SRAS provider and the Victorian interconnectors to establish a stable frequency on the network, and then progressively adding South Australian loads and power generators to the network to restore power.
“The sudden loss of the reported 445 MW of domestic power is a major challenge for any electricity network provider,” emphasises Jones. “The subsequent sequence of events resulted in the loss of a further 900MW of imports from Victoria. This study seeks to open discussions on that critical period leading to the loss of the Heywood interconnector and how large scale grid connected battery storage available right now can play a critical role in improving power system events such as those experienced in South Australia.”
Over the past decade, South Australia has dramatically changed its energy mix. Its coal-fired plants have all been withdrawn and renewable energy now supplies over 40 per cent of its power.
RES’ Moon says: “It is important to view this study as a power application with time scales of seconds to minutes. The implications are that system resilience can be improved paving the way to greater generation diversity on the current network. You can be certain that grid operators around the world will be reading the reports on the South Australia event. This will be driven by the desire to learn and implement solutions to increase robustness in their own domestic system.”
Lloyd’s Register is supporting RES in developing a live 100MW (approx. £40M) storage battery in South Australia.
“With so many advances in energy technology, our technical experts in Australia and across the world are committed to ensuring all our customers stay at the forefront of this transformation for the benefit of their consumers and governments’ energy agenda,” emphasises Jones.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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