As Australia looks increasingly to grow and develop its renewable energy generating capacity, one of the key engineering challenges going forward will be the design of networks and electricity systems to accommodate this shift.
With that in mind, researchers at the University of Melbourne are set to develop Australia’s first open source renewable energy model.
Once developed, the university’s engineering department says the new model will help researchers better understand and simulate the country’s demand for renewable energies and help engineers and related professionals to design electricity systems for the future.
Minister for Resources Martin Ferguson announced funding of $900,000 for the project last week.
Dr. Roger Dargaville of the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences, who will lead the project along with associate professor Michael Brear from its School of Engineering, says designing a cost effective and reliable low-carbon national energy system represents a significant challenge, and will require the combining of renewable and traditional energy generation technologies, transmission networks and economics.
“The model will examine if the current regulatory system can cope with a high penetration of renewable energy, and what new policies may be required to enable the transition to a low carbon economy,” Dargaville says.
Dargaville says the new model will shed light on what the best locations would be for each technology and would highlight which combination of technologies at which locations minimise variability across systems, maximise system stability, minimise the need for new transmission lines and keep backup systems as small as possible.
“The open source element of this project makes it unique and a well overdue addition to the toolbox for energy researchers in Australia to simulate our National Energy Market,” Dargaville says.
Collaborators on the project include associate professor Iain MacGill of the University of NSW, the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, General Electric and consultants Market Reform.