Australian grid operator turns to Smart Wires technology to unlock renewables

Transmission network operator Transgrid is counting on technology developed in the United States to increase the capacity for the bidirectional flow of energy between Australia’s most populous states with works on the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector upgrade project nearing completion.

From pv magazine Australia

Transgrid has confirmed its Victoria-New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) upgrade project, which will increase transfer capacity into NSW from Victoria by 170 MW at times of high demand, is now more than 80% complete with the network operator saying it remains on track for completion this year.

The project, identified as a priority by both the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the NSW government, involves an upgrade of Transgrid’s substations at Yass and Stockdill in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) using SmartValve technology designed by US-based company Smart Wires. Smart Wires’ modular power flow controller technology enables the real-time control of electricity flows along power lines. The SmartValve system detects areas of congestion in the network and automatically redirects flows to less congested lines.

Transgrid executive manager of works delivery Craig Stallan said the system will increase the capacity for the efficient flow of energy across state lines, unlocking spare transmission capacity using existing transmission infrastructure.

“This is clever technology which benefits both customers and the environment and will allow renewable energy from Victoria to flow into NSW and the ACT when demand is greatest,” he said.“We are maximizing the capacity of the existing infrastructure, resulting in a more secure, stable network that will be able to integrate more renewable energy.”

The VNI project is the first large-scale use of the SmartValve technology in Australia but Smart Wires APAC general manager Aidan Lawlor said the technology has been successfully implemented by the United Kingdom’s National Grid, across Europe, the USA and Latin America. “We have worked alongside Transgrid for three years to create the right solution for the VNI project with the use of SmartValve technology,” he said.

Nine SmartValve units have already been commissioned at Transgrid’s Stockdill substation, unlocking an extra 120 MW of additional energy to the NSW grid. Six of the units will be installed at Yass by the end of September with testing to get underway in October. These will unlock a further 50 MW of energy.

Commissioning of the units at Yass substation is expected by the end of 2022. The VNI upgrade is scheduled for completion in December.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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