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Energy & Utilities

Offgrid Hybrid Power Systems – Can Solar Forecasting reduce LCOE?

10 Feb 2016, by Informa Insights

ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies. Their innovative technologies and successful business development is spearheaded by Juergen Zimmermann, who is presenting a case study about microgrid solutions and high penetration solar systems at Informa’s Remote Area Power Supply Conference, in Melbourne next month.

We were delighted to have Juergen, ABB’s Business Development and Technology Manager, share his insights on off-grid power systems, in an exclusive Q&A with us recently.

We kicked off by asking him – How would you qualify the development of hybrid power systems over the past 10 years? In your experience, what are the impacts of technologies and systems improvements on performance results?

Juergen: “The hybrid generation solutions provide high-quality electricity in isolated locations, and control renewable generation in isolated networks by reducing the reliance of remote communities on fossil fuels. The successful development of these power systems over the past 10 years indicate that we have moved passed the technical feasibility question: does it work / not work?  We now must focus on identifying cost reductions to expedite the shift away from government subsidies to make these projects viable. This requires putting emphases on the synergy between on-grid and off-grid applications.”

Q – What are the technical challenges yet to be overcome to maximise solar penetration? Technical challenges?

Juergen:ABB’s proven and unique microgrid solutions enable very high levels of solar power penetration in isolated diesel- powered grids, reducing CO2 emissions as well as dependency on fossil fuel supplies that are not only costly, but also uncertain. We do however, see potential in the area of solar forecasting as we believe this has not been fully explored. We also believe it is necessary to accelerate the standardization of microgrid technology and its components in order to explore way of increasing interoperability and reduce complexity in system design in order to lower costs.

ABB is committed to growing its capability and leadership position in microgrids. It is a key focus area of the ABB Next Level Strategy and a dedicated 1000 day program is now well established to ensure the company is well placed to identify and realise the opportunities available in this growing segment. The experienced ABB team based in Darwin is dedicated to developing solutions that our global sales network can confidently take to our existing customers and the broader marketplace.

Q – What is the most challenging and interesting project you have been involved with?

Juergen: In Australia, ABB’s microgrid projects include the Australian-first battery energy storage system project in Victoria, known as the Grid Energy Storage System (GESS) for AusNet Services and the Longmeadow project in South Africa.

AusNet Services aims to trial a non-network option to manage peak demand and defer network augmentation. This trial will investigate the capabilities of grid-connected microgrids to provide peak demand support. By embedding a generation source close to the load, AusNet Services plans to study the effects this will have on postponing network investment involved with upgrading feeder lines to support increased loads.”

Q – What are your current objectives?

Juergen:Microgrids come in all sizes and shapes, therefore fitting individual solutions to each application can be challenging. It is necessary to emphasize on the ability to customize products. Efforts are now being made to standardize microgrid solutions, thereby easing their integration into the power-delivery systems. Utilities and the public have now seen the benefits of a strong resilient grid, being reinforced by microgrid technology. As a result, the industry’s emphasis on microgrid technology is shifting from demonstration projects to standardised deployment. We are also establishing new channels to the market by working with system integrators.”

Q – Which areas and topics are you looking forward to discussing at the 3rd annual Remote Area Power Supply Conference?

Juergen:The conference is important as it is providing ABB with a platform to highlight current microgrid installations, systems, projects and how standardisation for design and engineering can be utilized to reduce costs and improve project economics. Furthermore, we are looking forward to presenting the ABB automation system plug-in to the HOMER software, as part of a workshop that will be offered in connection to the RAPS conference.”

Juergen will present on the 22nd March 2016 at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne.

See full details here


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