Centre to transform Australian electricity networks

A new research centre to help transform Australian electricity networks and lower greenhouse gas emissions was opened in November.

The $1 million state-of-the-art Renewable Energy Integration Facility, part of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Newcastle Energy Centre, was launched by Federal MP for Newcastle Ms Sharon Grierson.

The centre will develop new grid management technologies that will allow greater penetration of renewable, low-emission energy resources into electricity networks.

The technologies being developed are designed to be used across different types of renewable generation methods, now and into the future.

The facility is connected to a range of generation types including solar photovoltaics, wind and gas turbines, battery storage and a load bank.

It will demonstrate how electricity networks will work in the future where the electricity supply mix will include greater numbers of small power sources in conjunction with large, centralised power sources.

Ms Grierson represented Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon. Kim Carr.

CSIRO scientist, Dr David Cornforth said the facility represents a major upgrade of CSIRO’s experimental capability in energy management, and electricity grid operation and planning.

“The facility is state-of-the-art in its diversity of resources and experimental range,” Dr Cornforth said.

“It incorporates a large range of electrical generators and replicates the way electrical load for an entire complex changes during the day.

“This means researchers at the facility can test new grid design and operation techniques in a real-world environment using a variety of electrical generators and loads.”

The technologies being developed are designed to be used on any generation method, now and into the future.

“The facility demonstrates how electricity networks will work in the future where the electricity supply mix will include greater numbers of small power sources in conjunction with large, centralised power sources,” Dr Cornforth said.

“This research will not only benefit developed countries with existing electricity networks, such as Australia, but also assist in the low-emissions electrification of developing countries.”

New design and operation techniques have the capacity to transform electricity networks by increasing electricity reliability, improving system efficiency, removing common failure points, boosting renewable energy resource integration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Renewable Energy Integration Facility will be used for in-house research, as well as collaborative projects with industry and other researchers.