Australian start-up targets rooftop solar increase with new tech to manage grid stability in low voltage areas


From pv magazine Australia

Brisbane-based eleXsys Energy will seek to demonstrate the potential of its new technology which has been designed to increase distributed energy resources (DER) hosting capacity on low-voltage power lines after securing AUD451,000 ($321.141) in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

EleXsys said the device works by regulating voltage on low-voltage power lines by dynamically providing or absorbing reactive power. By maintaining voltage within normal operating bands, eleXsys can better utilise DER, such as locally produced solar and battery storage, effectively preventing curtailment of exports and without expensive grid upgrades.

EleXsys chief executive Bevan Holcombe said the trial will demonstrate “the applications of eleXsys in the residential DER market and how existing distribution grids can be supported to host much more exported solar energy than is typically the case in Australia today”.

“We believe that distributed energy is the most efficient form of energy generation that you can have,” he said. The $1.92 million trial project will be undertaken in conjunction with distribution network service provider (DNSP) Energy Queensland.

EleXsys will install five of the devices, with three to be directly connected to Energy Queensland’s network. One will be trialled behind the meter on a customer’s premises, and one will be tested at Energy Queensland’s Real Time Digital Simulator facility in Cairns to show how the device performs across a wider range of network types.

The project will also benefit from the insights of several other DNSPs participating in a dedicated stakeholder reference group.

The final findings of the project are to be made public with a knowledge sharing report to be published.

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The device works by regulating voltage by dynamically providing or absorbing reactive powerImage: Elexsys

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said technology like the eleXsys device will play an increasingly important role in the addition of more renewables to Australia’s energy makeup.

“To help increase the amount of distributed energy we can have on Australia’s energy network, it’s vital that ARENA supports these new technologies such as the eleXsys which not only help to connect more home solar and batteries, but also helps to avoid expensive network augmentation works to support increased demand,” he said.

“After a successful trial in southeast Queensland, we could see the technology installed across the grid to save costs for users while also enabling more distributed renewals to be connected to the grid.”

The funding for the trial comes after ARENA last year awarded eleXsys $3.5 million under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, enabling the construction of a purpose-built manufacturing facility.

Assistant Energy Minister Tim Wilson said on Thursday that ARENA’s latest investment will allow clean energy producers to feed much more energy back into existing electricity distribution grids.

“With one in four households powering the nation through rooftop solar, and another 2,000 added every business day, we’re investing $450,000 to boost their contribution to the grid, so they play a bigger role in our carbon neutral future,” he said.

“The devices will be trialled on the Energy Queensland network for now, but the technology could be applicable to any low-voltage area in Australia.”

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