Grid Integration Of Renewables – Five Top Projects

A stocktake of renewables integration projects globally has identified top projects across the world.
Published: Thu 20 Nov 2014

The integration of renewables to the grid is one of the key challenges in the wide-scale development of these technologies, leading the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to bring together the scattered information from around the world into a central repository of projects. [Engerati-Grid Integration Of Renewables – Global Trends]

The project stocktake, which was compiled by consultants Marchment Hill and VaasaETT, comprises 176 projects, of which 116 projects are from Australia and the remainder from 21 countries across the globe, from Brazil to China.

Project inclusion was based on a set of 14 economic/commercial and technical objectives against which each could be scored. These relate to issues with renewable energy in distribution networks which need to be solved, and enable the top projects scoring most highly against them to stand out.

eTelligence project (Germany)

The eTelligence project that was undertaken by EWE provides important tools for the future by intelligently linking the fields of telecommunication, IT and energy.

With Germany’s aim to obtain 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030, the eTelligence project has set the course for the future in the north German town of Cuxhaven by linking large and small-scale consumers and producers via ICT technologies into an intelligent system. The Cuxhaven model demonstrates how the regional balance between generation and consumption can contribute to security of supply and how ICT, in combination with existing energy structures, can enable the optimization of distributed energy supply. As a result, the foundations have been laid for the energy supply system of the future, by creating an efficient system that integrates distributed energy resources intelligently into the energy system.

The fundamental elements of the project include a regional marketplace, a virtual power plant and intelligent distribution network.

Jeju Island Smart Renewable project (Korea)

The Jeju Island project being undertaken by Korean utility Kepco with Hyundai Heavy Industries and steel company POSCO, seeks to establish a smart renewable system to promote the use of renewable energy, distributed energies and electric vehicles which cannot be accommodated with the existing network infrastructure.

South Korea needs to foster the smart grid industry as a new growth engine that surpasses semiconductors and IT products. Further, a great ripple effect in the economy is expected not only in the power and heavy electric industries but also in related key industries including telecommunication, smart home appliances, construction, electric vehicles, and energy.

The project embodies the Korean government’s long-term holistic vision. It is estimated the establishment of the smart grid will not only solve Korea’s future energy problems and improve the quality of life, but will also bring other benefits such creating new jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lowering dependence on energy imports, increasing exports, creating domestic consumption, and avoiding the need to build new power plants.

Renewables-based Fair Neighbour Comparison (Opower)

Opower has built a business model around the analysis of metering data and other data sources. Its software provides utilities ways to communicate potential energy savings to customers and compare electricity use with that of peers. Communications channels include web portals, mobile applications and SMS but also paper-based “energy use” reports that complement electricity bills.

Opower currently counts eight of the 10 biggest US electric utilities as clients, reaching over 22 million utility customers worldwide. Their approach has saved 3.7 billion kWh overall and lowered carbon emissions by 2.6 million tonnes.

One of the components found most engaging for energy consumers and prosumers is comparing their energy use with that of similar homes in their neighbourhood, so that they can see how their home is performing. Opower's Fair Neighbor Comparison project is able to intelligently compare customers with self-generation to other customers with self-generation. The platform can also ensure that customers without renewables are compared to each other.

Smart City Búzios (Brazil)

Búzios was chosen as the first technology showcase of Enel Group in South America. Approximately 10,000 electronic meters are being installed, two electric stations trickle

chargers, and 130 points of LED lighting, plus 48kW distributed generation, 17 points of network automation, and intelligent buildings and other technologies, which will cover about 10,363 consumers in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

A broad range of stakeholders, such as the government, local society, new technology providers and academia, are engaged in research, development, dissemination and implementation of the project under Ampla Energia e Serviços. The project is aimed at developing knowledge to enable the interconnection of new generation sources to a highly automated and fully integrated network as a result of deploying a monitoring centre which facilitates the possibility of diagnosing problems and repairs that can be performed efficiently and rapidly due to investment in the distribution network.

The project is also established as a "living laboratory" for testing and evaluation of a technological concept, including renewable integration under smart city context.

King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (Tasmania)

The main aim of Hydro Tasmania’s King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP) is to increase renewable energy generation and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. To do this, KIREIP built on 15 years of operational experience of the King Island power system, with a history of progressively introducing renewable technology to displace increasing amounts of diesel fuel. This knowledge and experience were used to design a project and set of objectives that would allow 100% renewable energy penetration, trial energy storage and demand side management in order to save costly diesel fuel.

The King Island grid had previously utilised significant amounts of wind energy, with an annualised average renewable energy use of around 33% and instantaneous penetration of up to 80%. KIREIP has used the existing renewable energy sources to increase average renewable energy penetration in the system to up to 65%.

The KIREIP project is believed to be the world's first island grid of this size and has been successful in achieving sustained operation of the King Island power grid on 100% renewable energy, without support from conventional fossil fuelled generators.

Further reading

ARENA: Integrating Renewables into the Grid: Stocktake project. Stocktake Results

ARENA: Integrating Renewables into the Grid: Stocktake project. Report B