Plug and play energy hub to transform grid

Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)


An energy research hub at the Australian National University is leading the charge on future-proofing the electricity grid.

The ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will join ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt on Tuesday to officially open the new Distributive Energy Resources Laboratory building.

So-called distributed energy generated in homes and businesses is changing the way Australia produces and manages electricity, and may end the reliance on big power stations.

Using electric cars as a fleet of batteries on wheels to recharge the grid is already being road-tested.

The lab is also stress-testing neighbourhood networks of transformers, solar generation and shipping container-sized batteries.

“The new Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory cements Canberra’s position as the national leader in renewable energy innovation and collaboration,” Mr Barr told AAP.

The lab is an Australian-first where companies can test new technologies to make sure they work and to ensure the energy grid can withstand climate change.

Chief operating officer of the university’s battery storage and grid integration program Heather Logie said the world has moved from simply de-carbonising the electricity sector to de-carbonising the whole economy.

“We are now in a race to electrify everything,” Ms Logie said.

“The ‘plug and play’ set up means researchers, government and industry have the opportunity to test this new tech and how it can be harnessed by our energy grid before the switch is flicked ‘on’.”

The surge in renewable energy assets also needs to be handled carefully to safely and effectively enter the electricity grid.

Professor Schmidt said the lab will provide a fail-safe power system to safely develop and test technologies and systems before deploying them into the live grid.

The project to design and build the national facility has been a partnership between the ANU, UNSW Canberra, and local companies IT Power and Evoenergy.

It is also part of the ACT government’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2045.


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