Ergon Energy’s plan to install network-scale battery storage in 2015 has been praised by peak distribution body Energy Networks Association (ENA), and used in a case study by Accenture Strategy in a recent report which looks at the challenges facing the Australian electricity sector.
Ergon’s announcement that it would install 20 Grid Utility Support Systems (GUSS) on its Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) network was well received, as using battery storage on this scale to improve load voltages and overall reliability to customers in the more remote parts of the network will be a national first.
The Accenture Strategy report titled ‘The Balance of Power: Why Australian Utilities Need to Defend, Delight and Disrupt’ was prepared in collaboration with the Australian Financial Review.
The ENA singled out the GUSS initiative, with Association Chairman Paul Adams saying the GUSS program would deliver better value for Ergon and its customers, while its adoption and deployment without subsidies is a rational commercial response.
Steve Richardson, one of the Technology Innovation engineers working on the project, presented at the 2014 Energy Networks conference recently and spoke about Ergon’s intent to integrate non-traditional energy storage units to provide capacity and voltage support to traditional network issues. Steve spoke about how SWER networks face a range of challenges including remoteness, lack of communications, very high system impedances, harsh environmental conditions, line protection issues, and stability issues with decentralised control. Ergon Energy has developed some innovative and smart energy storage system management methodologies, along with planning techniques to overcome these challenges.
Overall, the application of GUSS by Ergon Energy sets up a future path for support of increasing loads without the need for typical augmentation. Due to the SWER networks being at the extremities of the network, they face some unique challenges and provide valuable learnings into future applications for energy storage in the denser network areas.