Win-win for utility and homes with smart batteries

Optimised outcomes for local distribution network

 
Properties participating in the project.

Properties participating in the project.

 
 
 

The Challenge

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To maximise energy savings outcomes of solar & battery-equipped households exposed to a demand charge, while minimising load on the local pole transformer on a section of the Ergon electricity network in Townsville, QLD.

The project involved nine homes in a cul-de-sac, with equipment from seven inverter and five battery manufacturers using both AC-coupled and DC-coupled configurations.

The Goal

The client’s aim was to use data collected from the trial to inform future network planning; in particular, to explore the potential for using distributed energy resources (DERs) to provide network services: a modern solution for modern network challenges.

The Solution

SwitchDin Droplet™ controllers were installed at each home to create a common language and provide monitoring and control of solar inverters, batteries and power meters from multiple vendors. Droplets™ operated autonomously at each home to maximise self-consumption and minimise demand charges.

The local distribution transformer was also equipped with a Droplet™, measurements from which allowed SwitchDin to establish closed loop control of the network. The nine individual systems were then automatically managed to maintain transformer loads between maximum and minimum bounds. In this case control was implemented via SwitchDin cloud platform StormCloud™ using 4G communications.

In the end, SwitchDin provided the client with device-to-control room visibility & control across all homes and devices involved in the project.

 

Outcomes: Less stress on transformer & savings for homes

 

Growing pressure on the network: The client anticipated that stressors on the local transformer would become more pronounced as solar penetration and afternoon peak loads increased on the network in the coming decades.

 

Keeping transformer utilisation within bounds: Automated demand response management based on measurements from the transformer itself. The green line in the chart to right denotes load automatically ‘shaved’ through demand response.

 

Stemming reverse power flows through transformer: SwitchDin was able to dynamically curtail solar export based on distribution transformer measurements. The dip in the blue line illustrates a reverse flow event before project implementation.

 
The trial demonstrated that smarter management of ‘behind the meter’ devices - including batteries - could help to reduce electricity charges for households by reducing consumption levels.

The trial demonstrated that smarter management of ‘behind the meter’ devices - including batteries - could help to reduce electricity charges for households by reducing consumption levels.

 

Highlights

  • Demonstrated potential for smart energy management to optimise benefits of battery for consumers.

  • Easy integration with broad, range of system devices and configurations.

  • Demonstrated benefits of demand response management (DRM) for homes with batteries.

  • Demonstrated how automation of DRM and export management at the transformer level could deliver concrete network benefits.

Next steps

Energy Queensland are analysing outcomes from this project to inform future network development and investment strategies, looking specifically at the role that ‘non network solutions’ can play in their networks’ future.

 

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