A project designed to squeeze more from the ACT’s energy network has attracted $2.9 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Called Project Converge, the $8.4 million project builds on previous work to optimise the two-way flows of energy in grids challenged by the influx of solar, batteries and other distributed energy sources.

ACT-based energy distributor Evoenergy will run the project in partnership with the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the Australian National University (ANU), Zepben and the ACT government.

The project involves implementing “shaped operating envelopes” into the electricity network that are software tools that allow Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs) to optimise generation, storage and consumption across the network.

The technology allows distributors to manage two-way energy flows, network constraints in the area and the unique import and export capability for each solar and battery connection.

An optimised network will be better able to manage solar that comes online in the middle of the day and the lulls in generation in the evenings paired with a spike in demand. A dynamic, optimised system will shift demand to the middle of the day and use batteries to store excess energy.

By carefully managing the flows of energy from batteries, solar systems and other DER, it’s possible to meet energy customer needs without building more transmission infrastructure.

Customers benefits in a few ways: for customers with solar and batteries, it helps harvest more value from solar and battery systems. It will also increase the ability to access energy trading markets to extract more value out of DER.

It also results in less spending on transmission and network infrastructure, which leads to lower network charges. This helps bring costs down for all energy customers, including renters and people living in apartments.    

“Increasing the amount of solar and batteries in our network has so many fantastic benefits for energy users and our environment, but at the moment, there are technical constraints holding energy users back from using these technologies the way they want to,” Evoenergy strategy and operations manager Leylann Hinch said.

“When we introduce innovative ways of operating the network within its current capacity such as shaped operating envelopes, we can defer investment in more poles and wires whilst also enabling more solar and battery connections to the network.”

ARENA has supported the project in the knowledge that the project will help fine-tune the algorithms expand the technology to the rest of the National Energy Market (NEM).

“Project Converge helps to build on previous ARENA funded DER projects and trial the use of shaped operating envelopes to offer a smart solution that will assist and help manage the grid, while also allowing customers to benefit financially who provide energy from their DER back into the grid,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.