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Distribution network impact studies

Butler, Thomas (2008) Distribution network impact studies. Internship Report, Murdoch University.



In June 2008 the Australian Federal Government's Green Paper stated its goal as a contributory to the Kyoto agreement of an overall reduction in carbon equivalent emissions of 60% of the year 2000 emissions by 2050. The impact of meeting this challenge will be felt across all sectors of the Australian economy. It is widely reported that the Australian stationary energy sector is currently responsible for 50% of the country's total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Clearly, the impacts of these future changes will be felt in the electricity generation, transmission and distribution sectors more that any other.

In light of these changes the impacts of Embedded Generation (EG) are considered to be significant to the design and operation of existing and new distribution networks and their interaction with the wider electrical system. To date, few investigations into the impacts of EG have studied and modelled in detail the interaction between large numbers of individual small generators, the distribution system, and the wider grid. Hence, the concerns of Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs) have, to date, not been assessed under projected high EG penetration scenarios.

The issues of concern for DNSPs under high EG penetration scenarios vary broadly and are expected to compound as penetration levels increase into the future. They range from the topics of design in network planning and reliability to technical aspects such as the impacts on conductor thermal ratings, losses and power quality issues. The Distribution Network Impact Study (DNIS) applied power system modelling techniques to real-world distribution feeder models under a variety of scenarios selected in order to quantify some of the potential issues arising from high EG penetrations in such networks.

The key conclusions of the study include the finding that embedded generation can markedly improve losses and voltage profiles and may even offer some benefit in postponing network upgrades. Furthermore, it is shown that there is unlikely to be any negative impact on existing protection equipment or fault currents around the network. While some power quality issues are expected it is unlikely that the inclusion of realistic numbers of generators will create problems under consideration of statutory limitations.

Under projected high photovoltaic penetrations some impact is expected on active voltage regulating equipment such as OLTC transformers. While it is expected that these devices will not be expected to operate outside of their capacities they may be required to operate more frequently resulting in more rigorous maintenance requirements.

Item Type: Internship Report (Bachelor of Engineering)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
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