Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory Opens at ANU

Powering renewable energy research

A new laboratory for testing renewable energy technologies in a simulated grid environment opened earlier this week, attended by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt. Oliver Woldring and Susan Dedman represented ITP Renewables as a lead partner at the formal launch of the Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory (DERlab) in collaboration with the ANU Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program, Evoenergy ACT and UNSW Canberra.

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July 13, 2021

The DERlab is a new facility to allow for safe testing of new technologies such as monitoring and communication devices, smart controllers, aggregation (e.g. Virtual Power Plant) and market participation software and other innovative new products under development, in a multi-platform environment that simulates real-world conditions prior to roll-out.

The aim is to develop protocols for multi-technology solutions to avoid early technology lock-in, streamline research and development and maximise the number of products which can be used across Australian networks.

Previously, the only way to test the interaction of DER with the grid was to install devices in the live grid, often in customers’ properties. This is costly and laborious. Critically, the grid mostly operates under conditions that do not expose devices to system-critical extremes, which are becoming increasingly dependent upon the behaviour of DER. Not testing devices under these extremes creates real physical and reputational risks.

The DERlab overcomes these limitations by providing a fail-safe testing environment. The lab simulates a distribution network that can be brought to a user defined operating state and into which users can connect a collection of commercial and custom devices.

Users can test the communication and control functionalities of their devices; interrogate the integration and interaction of multiple devices; and explore the system dynamics of DER devices operating under ordinary and extraordinary grid conditions.

With the launch of the Lab, the pace of research into distributed energy technologies can be faster than ever before, and we are very excited to be contributing at the forefront of technology development in this space.