Renewables expert named WiT rising star

WiT Rising Star recipient Dr Terese Milford
WiT Rising Star recipient Dr Terese Milford

A Brisbane engineer whose revolutionary techniques are helping Queensland reach its goal of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 has been named the Rising Star at this year’s Women in Technology (WiT) Awards.

Gaythorne’s Dr Terese Milford, a senior future technologies development engineer for Ergon Energy Network and Energex (EEN-EGX) Intelligent Grid New Technology, was presented the award at the Royal International Convention Centre in Bowen Hills.

Dr Milford’s work is helping to build tools that networks will need to more effectively integrate distributed energy resources, particularly renewable energy in the form of rooftop solar panels.

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“Yesterday’s network was built to deliver power hundreds of kilometres from large generators to customers. Tomorrow’s grid will support two-way power flows from thousands of small-scale energy resources,” Dr Milford said.

“This transition relies on improved knowledge of how the power system is operating, particularly at those lower levels of the network where most customers are connected.

“My work establishes a platform that uses the limited monitoring we have to gain better visibility of what is happening on the network. This visibility is fundamental to enabling intelligent grid operations involving renewable energy.” 

Dr Milford says the push towards 50 per cent renewables by 2030 will rely on networks dynamically interacting with distributed energy resources like rooftop solar via a connection arrangement.

“Currently, connections of rooftop solar might be limited in an area because there are already numerous systems connected,” she said.

“Under worst-case conditions the network can experience safety or performance issues if all the systems are fully exporting their surplus generation back to the grid.

“A dynamic connection will allow networks to confidently connect more distributed energy resources in the form of solar or batteries as we’ll have the ability to signal them to respond at times when the network is under stress.

“This approach could also allow customers to export energy or charge batteries at faster rates than they would otherwise have been permitted by dynamically accessing available network capacity.”

Dr Milford’s concern for future generations dealing with the consequences of fossil fuels drives her passion for renewable energy.

“By now most of the world is realising that transitioning to renewable energy and limiting our reliance on fossil fuels is critical for humanity and the planet, and can’t come soon enough,” she said.

“Renewable energy is important because it is cleaner and more sustainable than traditional forms of energy generation which rely on the burning of fossil fuels.”  

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Dr Milford says engineering is a rewarding profession and encourages women to pursue it.

“All individuals bring their own unique perspectives and insights to the table and diversity is so important when it comes to solving problems,” she said.

“The best solutions often come about when people bounce ideas off each other and having more women contribute to tackling the challenges facing society will benefit everyone.”

Click here for the full list of WiT winners.