Inertia measurement tech tipped to increase renewables on grid


As Australia’s transition to a grid dominated by renewables rolls on, London-headquartered grid tech provider Reactive Technologies will conduct a trial of its GridMetrix measurement service to accurately determine power system inertia as new wind and solar generators connect throughout the grid.

Inertia, historically provided by traditional synchronous generators such as coal-fired power plants, is necessary to maintain a consistent frequency and help the power system ride out any disturbances.

But with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasting that 60% of coal-fired generating capacity will exit the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2030, and more intermittent renewable generation connecting, alternative ways to provide and measure inertia are needed to maintain a secure and reliable grid.

The market operator currently estimates levels of inertia using a variety of techniques, including power system simulations and by measuring empirical data after system disturbances.

Reactive Chief Executive Officer Marc Borrett said moving from estimates to real-time measurements will boost visibility of inertia across the system and enable operators to predict and plan for guaranteed sources of inertia to keep the grid stable as they add renewables and distributed energy resources.

“We are eager to show how powerful our technology is when it comes to facilitating a swift and smooth transition to net-zero carbon grids without sacrificing reliability or resilience,” he said.

“Australia is one of many countries around the world that is taking admirable steps toward accelerating their energy transition and have rightly identified measurement of inertia as a crucial component of that transition.”

The Victoria Big Battery will be utilised during the trial.

Image: Neoen

The $3.07 million (USD 2.07 million) trial, supported with $1.43 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will be based in Victoria and will test and target a range of operating conditions including high solar generation, and high and low demand.

Reactive will deploy its Grid-Sonar technology, which will measure system inertia by injecting power pulses using Neoen’s 300 MW/450 MWh Victorian Big Battery to create small frequency deviations.

These deviations will be measured using units specifically designed to collect frequency and voltage data and installed at 15 strategically located sites on the grid. Reactive’s GridMetrix software suite will then collect the data and calculate the grid’s system inertia. AEMO will then be able to view the inertia values in real time via Reactive’s cloud-based platform.

The trial, which is scheduled to continue through to Q1 2024, is the first real-time, accurate measurement of inertia in the NEM and ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said he expects the technology will help AEMO to manage the power system, reduce the occurrence of inertia shortfalls, and improve overall system security.

“Continuous measurement of inertia will become highly valuable as it will allow less conservative grid operation and ultimately the ability to accommodate more non-synchronous generation such as solar and wind,” he said.

“Reactive Technologies’ measurement tools could change the way the NEM is managed. With real-time data available to AEMO, they could also then optimise customer-side generation which has been proven to contribute as much as 30% of total inertia to the National Grid in the United Kingdom.”

The trial project has received funding from Victoria’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) which is also providing the sites for the measurement equipment. The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Energy Institute will also provide support.

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