A Queensland engineering company has created a solution to proposed ‘switch-off’ measures for solar systems caused by the “perceived” increased instability of the national electricity grid.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), who manages electricity and gas markets across the country, wants the ability to switch off household solar when the grid becomes overwhelmed due to excess feed in from roof top systems.
Australia leads the world in per capita growth of solar power with the number of panels installed growing from 100,000 to 2.2 million over the last 10 years.
Engenuity Solutions’ managing director, Dr Chris Hawley, said it does not need to be a binary decision, that is either on or off, but rather communicate with the solar generation and maximise the return on investment for everyone affected.
His company has developed technology that coordinates the most beneficial energy usage for residential and commercial applications by communicating with energy production such as solar, wind, turbines, and biomass, battery storage and even energy consuming devices. It works for major commercial applications and can easily translate to a suburb or more in scale.
“Australia’s energy grid was never really designed for feed in from alternative sources of power like solar, so with its growth we’ve also found ourselves with a problem as the level of input is unknown and does pose challenges for the network,” Dr Hawley said.
“Our Energy Maestro technology is an integrated energy management system designed to orchestrate the flow of extra energy created by decentralised alternative energy sources without causing a potential overload on the grid resulting in blackouts.
“There’s nothing like this in the market and we’ve trialled the system in a large lot housing development so we know it works. It’s a win-win situation for people who have already invested in solar and a potential solution for the Federal Government’s technology investment roadmap.”
The Energy Maestro software is able to adjust the flow of electricity to and from the grid by controlling the site’s alternative energy production and storage infrastructure through a base station with protective devices that meet electrical authority compliance requirements. The Maestro also keeps a record of the site operation uplifted to the cloud and available through the internet so customers can monitor their system and how much carbon emissions they are avoiding.
Dr Hawley said there were two issues with solar power that needed to be simultaneously addressed and Energy Maestro could do this.
“Plenty of people have invested heavily in solar technology and don’t want to lose the benefits they initially purchased the systems for, and AEMO’s proposal will certainly affect this,” he said.
“There is also the issue of ongoing reliability of energy provided from solar that many policy makers are concerned about.
“A storage and control solution like ours goes a long way to ensuring a coordinated and continuous supply of electricity at market rates while bringing down carbon emissions over the next 30 years.”