Achieving Net Zero
The Australian energy market is advancing towards the Progressive Change scenario (also known as Net Zero 2050) where the country pursues an economy-wide net zero carbon emission by 2050.
As we transition to net zero, data, particularly around the low voltage network, will become increasingly important. New demands on the network from the cars we drive, to the way we heat/cool or repower our homes will change the traditional power flow and role of the electricity network.
This calls for a need to deliver an LV grid that is ready for net zero.
The Australian Energy Market
We are expecting, and indeed seeing, big changes in the 2020s as citizens and businesses move towards alternative sources to fuel cars and heat/cool homes. A typical EV or reverse cycle air-conditioner draws the same amount of power as an electric kettle or a hair dryer, but these are on for several hours, rather than a few minutes. Experiential data showed that one EV takes about the same amount of power as one house in a year. This means, to replace all cars with EVs, the energy market will need enough capacity to double the housing stock.
With more than 11 million electricity customer connections across Australia, the total stock of distribution transformers is assumed to be around 574,000 units, with a capacity of approximately 92,700MVA. This part of the network was traditionally installed on a ‘fit-and-forget’ basis, with the assumption that a customer of the future, looks similar to a customer at the time the network was installed.
Many of the cables powering our homes and business were installed in the mid 20th century which brings about a big problem - LV networks designed at that point in time did not take into consideration reverse power flows and did not have any form of monitoring, control and communication in place.
The LV network has finite capacity, and when this capacity is exceeded, the life expectancy falls off a cliff, increasing the chance of sustained long-term damage. Without intervention, we risk building a much bigger network, which may require extensive disruption and investment from a significant per cent of streets being dug up in the next 20 years.
In order to get the most out of the LV network, two things are becoming more of a necessity:
• Modelling to show where capacity exists
• Monitoring to look into detail at how demand moves on a daily/weekly/monthly basis - ensures the network operates up to, but not beyond, its limit
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