A grid-forming project that combines power electronics and battery storage, integrating solar and wind, is being replicated around the world according to Hitachi ABB Power Grids.
The project, sited at the end of a 120km, 33kV transmission line at a substation in Dalrymple in SA’s Yorke Peninsula, is described as Australia’s first virtual synchronous generator by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) project commissioned the project back in 2018.
Exploring battery storage
ARENA helped to fund the $30 million project, which aims to examine how battery energy storage systems (BESS) can help smaller regions to effectively manage their growing proportions of renewable energy. The Dalrymple area was deemed perfect for the project as South Australia is one of a few regions in the world with a high proportion of both wind and solar in its energy profile.
Hitachi ABB Power Grids delivered the technical side of the project, including 30MW/8MWh of battery storage which is controlled by Hitachi’s e-mesh automation and control software and inverter hardware. ElectraNet owns the transmission network and is working with Hitachi to increase the reliability of electricity in the area, as well as proving that there’s a business case for energy storage through the provision of revenue-generating services.
The project will help to reduce outages and energy costs
Head of Grid Edge Solutions at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, Maxine Ghavi, said that the ESCRI project integrates the output of a 91MW wind farm and several MW of rooftop solar in the area and also shows how such tech can reduce the number of power outages and lower domestic bills.
Ghavi added that it was exciting to see energy storage becoming an asset that can take part in the market as it meant more interest from customers.
Value stacking means that a tech or resource performs multiple applications for several revenue streams and the Dalrymple project can do this. It will provide competitive market services such as frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) for AGL, a local utility provider, and various services for ElectraNet.
Managing renewable energy more effectively
Ghavi said that many of the first larger communities that wanted to become more sustainable and also have reliable and renewable power were Australian. Many of these communities are, like the Dalrymple substation, at the end of the utility’s transmission lines.
These sorts of locations are vulnerable to adverse weather events and bushfires, suffering frequent outages or shortages and so bringing in more renewables and managing them more effectively is the best way to ensure a reliable and stable power supply.
The Virtual Generator Mode
Hitachi ABB Power Grids battery unit, branded as Power Store, also has a Virtual Generator Mode function. This mode mimics the way thermal power plants act as synchronous generators. They do this by providing the inertia to the power system that creates a stable grid.
Over the first 18 months of operations, the project reduced power cuts in the area by 95% and reduced the need to stop wind output being fed into the grid. The local network can be islanded away from the main grid if necessary and when it’s not isolated, it can feed power back into the grid along 100km of radial power lines. You can actually see the live data from the project here.
Connecting the world
From starting out as microgrids that got less micro, to grid-connected communities on the ends of transmission lines, it’s now obvious that “grid-edge” projects can teach the more grid-connected areas quite a lot about stability and sustainability.
More of these projects are starting up around the world, says Ghavi, and this will promote learning and research, as well as offering more stability in electricity networks. They’ll also help the sector into the marketplace.