Leylann Hinch, Branch Manager Asset and Network Performance, monitors the ACT network’s load with Controller Dave Ballard during the Demand Management trial at Evoenergy on 7 February 2018. Photo credit: Sophie Burmester.
The ACT electricity network owner, Evoenergy, has conducted the largest and most comprehensive demand management (DM) trials in Australia.
DM will play a key role in the future of modern electricity networks by helping to maintain grid security and optimise network investment.
Branch Manager Asset and Network Performance Leylann Hinch said seven trials have been conducted during the past six months, producing some strong results and valuable learnings.
“Our more comprehensive trial tested all three DM techniques simultaneously.
“This involved three different community groupings: Local residents moderating their electricity use in response to SMS text requests; contracted commercial customers curtailing load or switching to alternative power; and people with PV solar battery systems being part of a virtual power plant (VPP) dispatching renewable electricity into the grid.
“We have customers who own PV solar/battery systems connected to the ACT electricity network. We grouped more than 400 of those batteries into a virtual power plant, (VPP) and remotely controlled the VPP to dispatch stored electricity back into the network.
“This was Australia’s largest VPP of residential solar battery systems. It was also unique to involve simultaneously engaging with three different technology providers – Reposit Power, Evergen and ActewAGL.
“We have large customers who have embedded generation or have the option to cut their load through different pre-arranged strategies, who took a significant load off the network. For example, one large customer has gas generators, which supplied their sites rather than taking electricity from the network.
“And at the residential level we have individuals signed up to our SMS Program. They were sent a text asking them to reduce their demand.
“The combined actions of residents successfully registered on our network control system. While it was a small impact, it demonstrated the potential for individual residents to make a significant contribution.
“We are now very confident that when scaled up, Evoenergy will be able to operate a modern network that is safe, reliable and efficient, while accommodating short term peaks as well as increasing embedded generation, two-way energy flows and urban growth,” said Leylann.
By 2020 the ACT will have solar energy storage systems in more than 5,000 dwellings, capable of generating up to 36MW or 5% of the ACT’s peak load.
“This would be double the amount of load we curtailed with the support of the community which prevented load shedding during the heatwave crisis in summer 2017.
“On the afternoon of 10 February, when the heatwave rolled through, our peak demand was about 637MW. We were able to curtail about 18MW which ensured we didn’t hit the 650MW mark, which would have been very high demand on that day.
“We avoided load shedding then by going out to our major customers and the public requesting them to reduce consumption, but we don’t believe it’s best practice to do this reactively during an emergency as the result is uncertain.
“Our DM trials have proven the concept that when our Demand Management Program is scaled up we will be able to avoid load shedding in almost all circumstances.
“Through our DM Program we are future-proofing the network by having programs and strategies already in place with large and small customers to respond at a moment’s notice and reduce the impact on the wider community.
“Evoenergy has one of the most reliable electricity networks in the country and DM is a really important tool to help maintain our quality of service,” said Leylann.