"PV and the electricity grid: overcoming the technical growing pains"

On Tuesday the 26th of November 2013, the University of New South Wales Australia, and the Australian PV Institute hosted an international workshop on “PV and the electricity grid: overcoming the technical growing pains”. The workshop covered two particular themes- issues and opportunities around PV integration in Australia, and the relevant work occurring overseas in this area, particularly as part of the International Energy Agency Task 14 on High Penetration PV.


The workshop’s Australian-focussed sessions explored Australian experiences with PV integration. One detailed presentation focussed on Magnetic Island, and island offshore northern Australia, that was connected to the mainland distribution grid, but with this connection reaching capacity on peak load days. The presentation explored Magnetic Island’s experience with PV and its effect on net load, and thus the ability of PV to defer further distribution capacity upgrades. The presentation also detailed some voltage control investigations performed by the local utility, seeking to understand the effect of PV on local distribution grid voltages. The Australian-focussed sessions also detailed a survey of many of Australia’s distribution utilities, which asked them of their experiences and concerns with PV. The biggest concern cited by the utilities surveyed was with regards to voltage control from high penetration PV systems. Having explored some of the challenges in Australia regarding PV integration, Lara Olsen from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) then spoke about the extensive funding opportunities available for investigations around PV and its grid impacts. This includes the ARENA Remote Australia Renewables program, which is targeting projects focussed on industrial-scale deployments, and also those led by utilities. There is also an upcoming funding round specifically targeting PV integration issues.


The workshop’s international sessions explored some of the work from overseas, particularly as part of the IEA Task 14, that is relevant to Australia’s experiences with PV integration. This session included presentations from Japan (on challenges from centralised PV plants), Germany (regarding how Germany is handling high penetration PV issues on distribution networks), Austria (regarding new inverter functionality to support distribution system operation) and Belgium (providing a general overview of European activities in this area).


The workshop audience consisted of approximately 60 people, representing Australian utilities, consulting companies, funding agencies, regulators, research agencies, and international members of the IEA Task 14 PVPS team.

Download the agenda

Welcome and background: Assoc. Prof. Iain MacGill, UNSW

Update on ARENA's activities: Lara Olsen, General Manager Strategy, ARENA

The IEA PVPS High Penetration Task: Christoph Mayr, Roland Brundlinger, AIT

Utility experiences with high penetration - Australian survey results: Ben Noone, UNSW

Magnetic Island - An Australian case study: Dr Anna Bruce, UNSW & Dean Condon, Ergon Energy

Addressing issues created by high PV penetration at inverter level: Andros Cadavid, SMA Australia

High penetration in the European context: Manoel Rekinger, EPIA, EU

High PV in local distribution grids and update on PV in Germany: Dr Thomas Stetz, Fraunhofer IWES, Germany

Overview of grid integration research in the USA: Barry Mather, NREL, USA

Smart inverter technology for high PV penetration: Mr Roland Bruendlinger, AIT, Austria

Solutions for high PV penetration from central PV generation plants: Prof. Kazuhiko Ogimoto, University of Tokyo, Japan