Located in remote South Australia, the township of Roxby Downs is experiencing a surge in the number and size of rooftop solar systems being installed in residential homes supplied by the electricity network which is operated by the Roxby Downs Municipal Council.

While this is a good outcome for the environment, the rapid increase in distributed generation is putting a strain on the electricity distribution network particularly with respect to the management of voltage levels. The fact that the electricity network within the town is effectively a large island which is supplied from the Olympic Dam mine site results in further challenges.

Roxby Council is committed to continuing to facilitate distributed generation into the electricity distribution network, however, solutions are required to overcome a number of the technical challenges that high penetration of distributed generation poses.

After being awarded a competitive tender, the University of Wollongong’s Australian Power Quality and Reliability Centre (APQRC) is set to work with Roxby Downs Municipal Council to investigate power quality performance in the electricity distribution network operated by the council. They will also investigate and recommend methods which may be implemented to allow for further increases in renewable energy generation without compromising the reliability, safety and quality of the electricity supplied to customers.

The APQRC will develop a computer model of the Roxby Downs electricity network which will result in a flexible tool that can be used for future studies.

According to the project lead, Sean Elphick, “this project is very exciting as it leverages the world renowned power quality expertise of the APQRC to assist with the integration of new renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources that represent the future of our electricity supply,” he said.

“Combined with projects currently being undertaken for Western Power and Essential Energy, this project is another example of the ability of the APQRC to undertake practical, industry relevant commercial research which is solving real-world problems. It also cements the APQRC’s reputation as experts in renewable energy integration.”