Project Edith paves path to cheaper decentralised electricity

Solar roof panels (Project Edith))
Image: Shutterstock

Ausgrid has partnered with Reposit Power to launch ‘Project Edith’—a ground-breaking demonstration project that’s set to lay the foundations for a decentralised electricity grid. 

Named after Edith Clarke, a pioneer in electrical engineering, Project Edith will showcase how the grid can facilitate technology and green energy solutions, like Virtual Power Plants, to participate in energy markets without being inefficiently constrained by distribution network congestion. 

The project will demonstrate a decentralised and cost-effective way of managing network capacity in a growing two-sided market, where services are bought from distributed resources such as rooftop solar and electric vehicles to deliver cleaner, cheaper, and reliable energy for all consumers. 

Related article: Ausgrid uses drone to untangle wires in world first

A key feature of Project Edith is that both Ausgrid and Reposit Power will aim to leverage as much of their existing systems and process as possible to set out a practical pathway for the industry to mature over time. 

Ausgrid chief customer officer Rob Amphlett Lewis said the increased uptake of individual solar and battery systems meant networks like Ausgrid would have smarter ways to manage network capacity and make sure customers get the most out of the existing network and their own assets.

“Ausgrid wants to continue to deliver affordable and reliable network services for all our customers, and also support customers that invest in new technology,” Amphlett Lewis said. 

“We know our customers want access and freedom to use solar panels and battery systems to manage their electricity consumption. We need to get ready for the anticipated boom in electric vehicles to keep downward pressure on electricity costs and build a pathway to further integrate Distributed Energy Resources (DER) into the National Electricity Market (NEM). 

“This partnership with Reposit gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how we can make more network capacity available to these resources by finding flexible ways to identify and manage network constraints during peak times to keep the costs of electricity down.”

A ‘Reposit box’ installed on household rooftops will monitor household consumption, solar output, battery state, grid behaviour, weather, and market signals. It then decides how best to deliver value to both the homeowner and to the electricity system. 

Reposit Power CEO Dean Spaccavento said Project Edith would show how smart devices could respond to changing network conditions in real-time. 

“This will help Ausgrid make the maximum amount of network capacity available to our individual customers with solar and battery systems by focusing on dynamically managing peak times,” Spaccavento said.

“It is important that networks and agents such as traders that act on behalf of customers develop a model like Project Edith that addresses distribution network constraints in a decentralised way and maximises the value customers get from their home solar and battery systems in energy markets.”

“Reposit systems will respond to market conditions as well as optimise for time varying network tariffs whilst adhering to local network constraints. This will set the benchmark as a sophisticated and decentralised way of managing the local network to cope with electricity supply and demand fluctuations.”

Related article: Quad nations to focus on clean-energy supply chain

Reposit currently controls over 19MW/32MWh of distributed batteries that have been delivering services in the National Electricity Market since 2016. The company commercially operates in all contingency frequency ancillary services markets under the full obligations of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) specifications.

“Project Edith will give confidence to customers and AEMO that network constraints won’t unnecessarily impact the ability of these individual systems to act together in a Virtual Power Plant to provide services needed to stabilise the grid, reduce carbon emissions and decrease costs to customers.” 

“Furthermore, customers will benefit from lower network tariffs due to the flexibility of their home solar and battery systems,” Spaccavento said.