Monash explores solutions to stabilise national energy grid

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Electrical engineering researchers from Monash University will use federal government funding to investigate the nature and origin of oscillatory instability in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) and to identify potential solutions.

The $1.3 million (USD 830,000) project, partly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the tune of $499,744, is expected to reduce barriers to the connection and operation of inverter-based resources by helping system planners avoid upcoming oscillatory instability issues that can be caused by high levels of wind and solar.

By reducing instability, the new project aims to support the growth of renewable energy generation, optimise production from existing wind and solar projects, and encourage investment in additional renewable sources.

The NEM has faced ongoing operational challenges since 2018 due to the large uptake of inverter-based resources such as wind and solar, and the reduction in participation of conventional synchronous generators.

In 2019-20, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) curtailed the contribution of five solar farms for eight months while it worked to identify and address the causes of oscillatory instability in the West Murray Region of Victoria.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said the challenge of oscillatory instability needs to be addressed to avoid issues in the long term for the NEM.

“To manage the risk of instability in an increasingly inverter-based grid, it is necessary to build reliable and efficient tools that can identify root causes early,” he said. “These tools should also be useful to explore the suitability of solutions for a grid increasingly dominated by renewable generation.”

Miller said he is confident the work being done by the Monash team could help in the ramp up of new renewable energy generation and storage projects.

The tool will be suitable for use by the AEMO and transmission network service providers, and will have applications for system planning, grid connection and operations purposes.

Associate Professor Behrooz Bahrani, head of the Monash Grid Innovation Hub which will lead the research, said the project aims to pave the way for a robust, reliable and renewable future for Australia’s energy infrastructure.

“Enhancing the resilience and stability of our national energy grid is paramount as we accelerate our transition to renewable energy,” he said.

“Monash is committed to doing all we can to facilitate the seamless integration of renewables into our grid, and we’re optimistic about the innovative solutions this collaboration will bring forth.”

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