Evoenergy trials demand management initiatives

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ACT electricity network owner Evoenergy has conducted the largest and most comprehensive demand management (DM) trials in Australia.

Seven trials have been conducted in the past six months, producing strong results, according to branch manager asset and network performance Leylann Hinch.

“Our more comprehensive trial tested all three DM techniques simultaneously,” Mr Hinch said.

“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.”

More than 400 batteries were grouped into a VPP, which was remotely controlled to dispatch stored electricity back into the network.

“This was Australia’s largest VPP of residential solar battery systems,” Mr Hinch said.

He said another unique aspect of the trials was 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,” Mr Hinch said.

“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.”

By 2020, the ACT is expected to have solar energy storage systems in more than 5000 households, capable of generating up to 36MW or 5 per cent 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,” Mr Hinch said.

“On the afternoon of February 10, 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.”