Carnarvon DER trials providing valuable research insights

Murdoch University researchers are helping to shape the future of solar power in regional Western Australia

The Carnarvon Distributed Energy Resources (DER) trials have achieved a key milestone with the installation of solar PV and battery systems in participants’ properties.

Ten trial participants recruited through the competition held in the town last year have received a DER system consisting of solar panels, a solar inverter, battery and battery inverter, DER control technology and a Wattwatchers device so they can monitor their system performance.

In addition, six other trial participants on the Gibson feeder have received battery systems to augment their existing PV systems.

DER Horizon Power
Customers of the DER trial

In return for the equipment they are giving Horizon Power three years access to their system so they can test DER visibility and control, how much of their renewable energy they use in their house, how they could use the battery to manage their peak demand and save money on their electricity bill and how they can communicate with their PV and battery system to achieve orchestration of these assets as part of network optimisation.

Each of the participants’ systems is fitted with monitor and control technology that allows Horizon Power to gather PV and battery performance data, which Horizon Power marries together with weather data, power station performance and network operation data.

Related article: Solar program creating opportunities in Kimberley

Analysis of the data collected from the participant’s DER systems is already providing valuable insight into the way fluctuations in solar PV generation is impacting on network operation.

Researchers from Murdoch University’s School of Engineering and Information Technology (our academic partners for the trials) are analysing the data and developing control strategies to better manage the PV and battery systems.

Embracing innovation

Dr Marina Calais, who is heading the team of Murdoch researchers, said the town of Carnarvon had a history of embracing innovation and Horizon Power wanted to find a way for more residents to take on renewable energy generation.

“The trials and experiments being conducted across this three-year project will help us to understand how best to ensure a stable power supply for Carnarvon from renewables,” Dr Calais said.

“We will be looking at how various ‘critical scenarios’, such as rapid solar PV generation reduction due to cloud movement across the town or inverter tripping, will impact the system, and come up with recommendations on how DER systems could continue to provide a reliable supply.

Related article: How smart contracts will change the energy market

“We want to help Horizon Power overcome barriers to connecting increasing amounts of renewable energy to the network and allow their customers to be part of the solution that will eventually bring benefits for all of regional WA.”

Other Murdoch researchers involved in the project include Professor Parisa Bahri, Dr Ali Arefi, Dr GM Shafiullah, Dr Farhad Shahnia, Simon Glenister, Dr Moayed Moghbel and Adjunct Professor Craig Carter.

The Carnarvon DER trials are primarily funded by Horizon Power with a $1.92 million contribution from the Federal Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).