How a lot solar vitality is misplaced via automated inverter settings? – pv journal Worldwide

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From PV magazine Australia

As the installations of distributed rooftop installations continue to grow in Australia, grid service providers and regulators such as the Australian Energy Market Commission seek to control energy flows and keep the grid stable while trying to develop grid engagement rules that demonstrate fair treatment of prosumers who have invested in PV … A new UNSW study hopes to support their decision-making process with data that will reveal how inverter standards are already affecting rooftop solar and how households are limiting the return on their clean energy investments.

“I am excited to offer evidence-based, data-driven research to industry and regulators,” said Dr. Baran Yildiz, Senior Research Associate at SPREE and the Collaboration on Energy and Environmental Markets (CEEM), told pv magazine Australia “so that they can make the most appropriate choices for energy consumers and aggregators.”

The $ 100,000 combined technical and social study, Curtailment and Network Voltage Analysis Study (CANVAS), is funded by the Commonwealth Government RACE for 2030 Cooperative Research Center (where RACE stands for Reliable, Affordable Clean Energy) and also aims to measure action to enable further support to provide integration of renewable energies into the energy system on a large scale.

The proposal for the project addresses the many “opportunities and benefits” that distributed energy resources (DER) offer consumers, but notes that “There remains a limited body of evidence on the severity of the DER reduction in Australia and its potential role the support of networks voltage management. “

The databases: AGL and Solar Analytics

UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) has negotiated access to anonymized records of solar power generation on roofs of participants in AGL’s South Australian virtual power plant (in which battery inverters manage interaction with the grid) and to the system performance of solar analytics monitoring platform (from the South Australian customer base who uses solar PV inverters to interact with the grid). The dual data sets enable a first-time comparison of the reduction as it is managed by battery inverters and solar inverters.

It’s one of the largest DER datasets available for research in Australia, says Yildiz. AGL’s high-resolution data alone consumes dozens of gigabytes of processing capacity, and the first fast six-month project phase would not be possible without a computing power grant from Microsoft Azure’s AI for Good program.

The inverter pyramid

For years, various state and federal agencies in Australia have placed changing requirements on inverters sold in Australia in terms of their response to voltage irregularities detected in the grid – that is, they may have to reduce the output or scale solar systems to the grid if limit values ​​are exceeded.

In South Australia, where more than 35% of households have solar energy, the state government and network service provider (NSP), SA Power Networks, enforced a rule in 2020 that stipulates that every new household that connects solar to the electricity grid, must have an inverter that can be completely switched off by an external agent in the event of an imminent grid imbalance due to peak solar production and the associated very low energy demand – for example, when solar output peaks at midday on the spring weekend, but it is not hot enough to switch all of them on Air conditioning.

Most of these inverter reactions, however, are automatic (SA’s large shutdown capability has only been called once since it was launched on September 28, 2020), and it is difficult to know which customers are using which vintage inverter, compliant with which standard. There is no oversight – for consumers, NSPs or market operators – over how much solar energy is shed.

“Users may find that in the middle of the day, when their solar system is at full capacity, it is turned off or not working as expected,” says Yildiz.

That doesn’t mean they are being cropped, he adds, explaining the opaqueness of current data. There can be several reasons, either related to the function of the solar panel or the inverter, why a system is performing below average.

The CANVAS team, which also includes Naomi Stringer, Shanil Samarakoon, Dr. Anna Bruce and Assoc. Professor Iain McGill, correlates his findings on irregularities in the expected solar output with the information provided by the Australian energy market operator on the state of the grid at the time, and thus firmly ties in with voltage disruptions.

It has just completed the top-line quick analysis of the AGL data and is now throwing a network through the offer of Solar Analytics.

“Each location is analyzed separately,” says Yildiz, “then we quantify what percentage of the locations are losing and to what extent,” and – here it gets even more interesting – “what they could lose if the inverters adhered to different rules and settings for each site. “

Reply scene and heard

This scenario modeling will help regulators make decisions and is accompanied by ongoing social research testing the palatability of various scenarios involving households that have invested in solar energy.

Yildiz expects a multitude of findings from the survey of energy producers, which his colleague Sophie Adams, a human geographer at UNSW who studies the social license to automate, will provide, but was able to share a preliminary result with pv magazine.

One question asked of the focus groups in the CANVAS study is how they would react if they found that they were not getting the expected return on their investment – either as solar energy for their own use or as solar energy to be fed into the Grid is fed in – in the tariff.

Yildiz said prosumers would be tolerant of action in rare emergencies where the burden of cutting was equally borne by the people in an affected area. However, in the event of frequent events or disproportionately affected people or in the event of severe losses in returns, they would be deterred from continuing to invest in solar systems and recommending a solar system to friends.

The accelerated analysis phase is slated to complete in July, with the findings being shared across the industry and particularly to regulators like the Australian Energy Market Commission, which recently released a much-criticized draft decision requiring homeowners and small businesses to pay an annual fee – about $ 100 – to export their excess solar energy to the grid.

The next stage of CANVAS will continue to add new data to the study as it also deepens its analysis.

“Australia is the world leader in rooftop solar systems,” said Dr. Chris Dunstan, RACE’s Chief Research Officer, said in a statement: “It is critical that we remove barriers to growing this clean and inexpensive resource. We are happy that this project is underway. “

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