Ergon rolls out innovative solar technology

Ergon Energy has begun the roll-out of innovative technology that will enable more homes and businesses to export power from solar PV systems into the grid.

Intelligent Grid New Technology manager Michelle Taylor said the first low voltage static synchronous compensators – commonly known as a statcoms – were installed in Mossman in May and would continue to be rolled out to other parts of regional Queensland.

“This is an Ergon initiative that will assist the network, which was designed in an era of one-way power flows, to adapt to the rapidly changing network environment where many homes and businesses are both consumers and exporters of power,” Ms Taylor said.

Ergon is working with Statcom Solutions, a Queensland-based company that has won the tender to supply the statcoms, for the rollout.

“Queensland has one of the highest rates of solar PV penetration of any state in the world with more than 140,000 systems connected to Ergon’s grid,” Ms Taylor said.

“This has resulted in some sections of Ergon’s network reaching their acceptable voltage limits due to rising voltage levels caused by solar PV systems.

“Statcoms regulate the voltage on sections of the network where they are installed, enabling more households to feed solar power into the grid and managing peak load voltages also.

“While statcoms are not a new concept, Ergon’s innovative application of the technology uses small-scale statcom devices to help manage the low-voltage network.”

Ergon’s technology innovation engineers delivered a proof of concept for the statcom equipment in 2014 and successfully trialled test versions of the technology in 2015.

“This contract provides our company with the opportunity to expand our product development program and the confidence the technology is accepted in the industry as a tool to improve power quality,” Statcome Solutions sales and marketing general manager Devern Hill said.

“Moving forward, we are positioning ourselves to have the ability and local manufacturing capacity to increase the manufacture of power electronics in-line with our product development roadmap.”