Extended hot weather in summer can place significant strain on the electricity system, more so with the increased use of air conditioners and electrical equipment in homes and businesses.
This hot weather places the grid in many parts of mainland Australia under great stress, sometimes resulting in power interruptions or blackouts. These can be caused by a number of factors: for example, local faults, bushfires, grid generator faults, transmission and interconnector faults. These are typical or traditional issues but what now may be our new biggest problem is grid instability, especially in South Australia with our high uptake of renewables and rooftop solar.
Whilst renewables producing power into our grid is great for the reduction in conventional power generation it does create problems for our networks being able to control the amount of energy entering the network caused by large amounts of uncontrolled solar being fed into the grid.
Originally electricity infrastructure was designed for a single direction of energy flow, to move from the generators to the consumers – high voltage transmission stepped down to low voltage to the consumers. What we have now is electrical energy entering from the consumers at numerous points which is basically back feeding into the grid – low voltage at the consumers end then stepping up to the higher voltage transmission. Whilst the network distributors have been investing in infrastructure to deal with this distributed energy resource (DER) they are faced with several challenges, and the issue that nearly all rooftop solar is uncontrolled and at times is producing an oversupply of power into the network, more than is being consumed. The simple effects of this is increased grid voltage and voltage spikes causing the grid voltages to exceed normal safe limits and potentially overloading network infrastructure, protection trips and increasing potential damage.
So how does this impact your site?
With the grid voltage spikes and general increased voltage, this can exceed the safe operating level of some sensitive equipment, such as Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPSs), air conditioning, refrigeration, medical & computer equipment, and cause them to fault, reduce capacity or shutdown to self-protect.
These consequences are all far from desirable at any time but the impacts in hot weather can be considerably more significant to the operations of many sites. We are also seeing an increase of site emergency generator operation due to these grid voltage fluctuations as the generators are designed to swing into action and protect the site from increased grid voltage as well as reduced voltage (brown out) or total loss of supply (black out).
Having your generator and associated equipment prepared for these situations is paramount in ensuring correct operation. Call our team on 8349 7854, and let us work with you to ensure all your vital infrastructure is prepared for summer.