Decarbonisation Challenge trial with Future Grid

Powerco is in the early stages of working with Australia-based Future Grid after the company was named one of the winners in Ara Ake’s electricity distribution Decarbonisation Challenge in November.

General Manager Strategy and Engineering Ryno Verster, who represented Powerco on a panel of judges from other New Zealand electricity distribution businesses (EDBs) involved in the challenge, says Powerco is excited about what this country’s EDBs can learn from Future Grid’s model.

Future Grid uses data from smart meters, IoT (internet of things) and increasing DER (distributed energy resources) inverters to create real-time power quality visibility to understand the behaviour and impacts of DER on the low-voltage (LV) distribution grid. It already works with Australian EDBs, along with New Zealand’s WEL Networks.

Both Powerco and Wellington Electricity chose to work with Future Grid as part of the Decarbonisation Challenge and share the findings with fellow lines companies. The Decarbonisation Challenge centred around meaningful collaboration to solve energy-related challenges.

“Understanding the LV network will be key to facilitating decarbonisation in New Zealand. A lot of the innovation and capability of customers to generate, store and participate in the energy market all happens behind the meter, which is LV. That’s something that traditionally networks have had little visibility of.

“We see these types of trials benefiting the New Zealand electricity industry as a whole. We’re committed to sharing the findings,” Ryno Verster says.

A reason why Powerco chose to work with Future Grid is that its model complements technology Powerco already uses to monitor its LV network.

“The Future Grid platform appears to be set up to work with the existing tools that Powerco has been investing in, including distribution transformer monitors and has integrations with software such as SAP and Esri.”

Initially, it’s expected the pilot will centre around testing and validating Powerco’s LV network model and distribution transformer metering data on Future Grid’s platform. The longer term will likely involve incorporating consumption and voltage data from metering equipment providers.