..



.

Business News

how to keep the power on when disaster hits

  • Written by Bjorn Sturmberg, Research Leader, Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program at The Australian National University, Australian National University

Bushfires, storms and floods regularly leave thousands of Australian homes and businesses without power.

Sydney’s wettest weekend in three decades[1] left more than 130,000 households without power on Sunday.

South Australian storms two weeks ago blew over the transmission towers[2] connecting the state to the national energy grid. The Royal Adelaide Hospital[3] was among the buildings affected.

Tens of thousands more households in Queensland[4], New South Wales[5], Australian Capital Territory[6], Victoria[7] and South Australia[8] have endured blackouts lasting from hours to days[9] in the past month or so due to bushfires.

Read more: Trust Me I'm An Expert: Why February is the real danger month for power blackouts[10]

It’s timely to consider how we can build a better system – one that’s more resilient in times of disaster and also doesn’t contribute, through carbon emissions, to making disasters more frequent.

One part of the solution is more connectedness[11], so one transmission line being severed is not the crisis it is now.

But just as important is ensuring connectedness isn’t crucial.

This means moving away from centralised systems – powered by a few big generators – to decentralised ones, with many local and small-scale generators. Instead of one big grid, we need many microgrids, interconnected but able to operate independently when necessary.

Power in a warming world

Australia’s energy infrastructure is looking increasingly fragile as global warming intensifies.

First, hotter and longer heatwaves put more pressure on grids. As energy demand spikes[12] on hot afternoons, so does the incidence of coal-fired generators[13] breaking down. At the same time, heatwaves reduce the capacity of both coal and gas generators[14].

The following graph from the Australian Energy Market Operator shows how the efficiency falls for coal-power turbines, combined-cycle gas turbines and open-cycle gas turbines.

image This graph shows how the efficiency falls for coal-power turbines, combined-cycle gas turbines and open-cycle gas turbines falls as the temperature increases. Australian Energy Market Operator

Hotter weather also impedes the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels[15] as well as the capacity of electrical wires to transport power[16].

Read more: 35 degree days make blackouts more likely, but new power stations won't help[17]

Second, hot and windy weather increases the chance of electrical wires sparking fires by contacting dry plants[18]. This is what led to some of the deadly Black Saturday bushfires in 2009[19]. The only protection against this is to turn off power on windy days. In California such blackouts affect millions of people[20].

Third, as already alluded to, a warmer climate increases the regularity and intensity of bushfires, floods and storms[21] – events that in recent weeks have cut off power to communities right when they needed it most.

Modern microgrids

To make the system more resilient, we need to ensure a local area can maintain power even when power is cut off elsewhere. This is feasible with microgrids.

A microgrid is simply an electricity grid built to a more local scale. The national electricity grid stretches from Port Lincoln in South Australia to Port Douglas in far-north Queensland. A microgrid might stretch no further than a few streets. It might cover an industrial estate, a town or a region.

Rather than relying on electricity generators hundreds or thousands of kilometres away, it has enough local generators to generally meet local demand. Though “grid-tied” – drawing or contributing power to a bigger grid as needed – it can also “island” (disconnect) and run independently.

Australian demonstrations

There are microgrid projects around Australia. These are preparing for a greater system transformation through ironing out problems and proving the benefits.

One is in the Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark[22]. It has demonstrated a single street (of 18 houses) can continue to operate on its own solar panels and battery storage for 22 hours before reconnecting to the national grid.

At a regional scale, the ESCRI project near Dalrymple[23] in South Australia combines a much larger battery array with 55 wind turbines and solar systems. So long as there’s enough wind, the system can provide electricity indefinitely to 4,600 customers.

image ESCRI battery at Dalrymple in South Australia. https://www.escri-sa.com.au/

Managing distributed energy resources

Microgrids are not only ideal for isolating regions from blackouts. They also help integrate “distributed energy resources” such as rooftop solar systems and electric vehicles, which pose a challenge to the way centralised way grids have traditionally been controlled.

Read more: How electric cars can help save the grid[24]

We should build on these strengths to reconfigure our national energy market as a grid of self-managing, self-reliant microgrids.

The main investment required for a “grid of microgrids” is for each region to install a battery and microgrid controller (and potentially more local generators). In remote regions this may be cheaper than the cost of maintaining transmission lines[25]. Most of the system will continue to be connected, however, ensuring efficiency by drawing on the cheapest energy available. Only when disturbances occurred would regions isolate themselves to avoid blackouts.

With Energy Networks Australia, which represents energy distributors, warning power prices will have to rise[26] to cover higher insurance costs as risks increase, accelerating the transition to microgrids deserves to be a key policy for any government concerned with energy security.

References

  1. ^ Sydney’s wettest weekend in three decades (www.abc.net.au)
  2. ^ blew over the transmission towers (www.theage.com.au)
  3. ^ Royal Adelaide Hospital (www.9news.com.au)
  4. ^ Queensland (www.abc.net.au)
  5. ^ New South Wales (www.canberratimes.com.au)
  6. ^ Australian Capital Territory (www.canberratimes.com.au)
  7. ^ Victoria (www.afr.com)
  8. ^ South Australia (www.abc.net.au)
  9. ^ days (www.afr.com)
  10. ^ Trust Me I'm An Expert: Why February is the real danger month for power blackouts (theconversation.com)
  11. ^ more connectedness (www.smh.com.au)
  12. ^ demand spikes (www.aemo.com.au)
  13. ^ the incidence of coal-fired generators (www.aemc.gov.au)
  14. ^ of both coal and gas generators (www.aemc.gov.au)
  15. ^ photovoltaic solar panels (www2.pvlighthouse.com.au)
  16. ^ electrical wires to transport power (www.sciencedaily.com)
  17. ^ 35 degree days make blackouts more likely, but new power stations won't help (theconversation.com)
  18. ^ electrical wires sparking fires by contacting dry plants (wildfiremitigation.tees.tamus.edu)
  19. ^ Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 (knowledge.aidr.org.au)
  20. ^ affect millions of people (www.nytimes.com)
  21. ^ bushfires, floods and storms (www.ipcc.ch)
  22. ^ of Mooroolbark (www.ausnetservices.com.au)
  23. ^ ESCRI project near Dalrymple (www.escri-sa.com.au)
  24. ^ How electric cars can help save the grid (theconversation.com)
  25. ^ transmission lines (www.aemc.gov.au)
  26. ^ prices will have to rise (www.abc.net.au)

Authors: Bjorn Sturmberg, Research Leader, Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program at The Australian National University, Australian National University

Read more https://theconversation.com/go-local-how-to-keep-the-power-on-when-disaster-hits-130534

Digital Agency

Business Daily Media Business Development

Accor and Visa form global partnership

Accor, a world-leading hospitality group, and Visa (V: NYSE), the global leader in digital payments, yesterday (the 18th of February) announced a global partnership to bring new payment expe...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Cruise Guru Celebrates CLIA Award Win with Offer for Australian Travellers

Leading Australian cruise agency, Cruise Guru, has been named ‘2019 Online Cruise Agency of the Year’ at the 19th Annual Cruise Industry Awards hosted by Cruise Lines International Associati...

Rhea D'souza - avatar Rhea D'souza

Exciting Things About Sydney

Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities that boasts a population of over 4 million people. It is a city that is famous for its picturesque views, multicultural people, superb weather, ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Accor announces new partnership with Grab to help members Live Limitless

Accor has announced a new strategic partnership between its new lifestyle loyalty programme, ALL - Accor Live Limitless and South East Asia’s leading super app, Grab. The deal brings toget...

Accor Pacific - avatar Accor Pacific

Upgrading to Deep Pocket Sheets

So, you have this amazingly comfortable bed that has a built-in topper and you are struggling to find the right bedding. You need to look for a sheet called deep pocket sheets or mega fi...

News Company - avatar News Company

Food you need to try in Beijing

Beijing is a beautiful and interesting destination for any kind of traveler. However, foodies will find a new heaven and will be able to try out tasty, flavorful and sometimes very special...

News Company - avatar News Company

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull