September 29, 2023

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University of Canterbury recognised for project on integrating renewable energy into electricity grids

University of Canterbury recognised for project on integrating renewable energy into electricity grids

A team of researchers led by the University of Canterbury’s
Electric Power Engineering Centre (UC EPECentre) has received
MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)’s
Gold Status for the second year running for the GREEN Grid (Gathering
Renewable Energy in Electricity Networks) research project.

The team includes researchers and postgraduate students from
UC EPECentre, UC Electrical and
Computer Engineering Department
and University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability

The project is led by Associate Professor Alan Wood
(previously led by Dr Allan Miller). It focuses on modelling future trends in
renewable electricity generation and household demand to ensure all New
Zealanders have access to reliable, safe and affordable renewable energy.

The research programme was established in 2012 with the aim
of future-proofing New Zealand’s electricity supply in view of increasing
renewable energy distributed generation and new technologies like electric
vehicles and smart appliances.

The programme is working with a wide range of end users
across the industry and in Government to ensure that changes to the network and
new management practices are applied consistently.

The intended end-result is an efficient, cost-effective and
robust electricity network meeting New Zealand’s changing power supply and
demand needs.

The programme envisages a Smart Grid envisaged where where
power flows are managed responsively and according to the needs of the users. The
grid will be able to temporally and spatially balance different types of supply
and demand. Management of demand, and not just supply, will be part of the
balancing solution. In particular, household demand including electric vehicle
charging will be a new tool, encouraging uptake of electric vehicles.

UC researchers worked alongside industry to develop a guide
for a nationwide approach connecting solar power and other distributed energy
systems to the national grid.

Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA) Chief Executive
Peter Berry praised the research as a real combined academia–industry project.
Ten distribution companies, including Orion, Unison, Powerco and WEL Networks, have
been involved in developing this guide as well as the regulator – the
Electricity Authority – and Transpower, the national grid owner and operator.

The programme has also helped educate the public with the energywiseTM
solar calculator
which was developed in partnership with the UC EPECentre
and released by EECA (Energy Efficiency
Conservation Authority). The solar calculator incorporates solar data sourced
from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) through its SolarView service.

The calculator is designed to assess the value of a solar
electricity system for a household. Based on details about the house, energy
usage, and how the person intends to pay for a solar electricity system. The
tool then estimates the value of installing a solar electricity system at the
house, including the estimated total earnings (if any) over the course of 25
years, and the estimated number of years that it would take for you to earn
back your initial investment.

The research team also delivered a detailed model of New
Zealand’s wind generation resource including variability and is about to
release a reserves requirements model with a set of recommendations for a new
set of ancillary services. This work has been done in conjunction with the New
Zealand system operator, Transpower.

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