Above: Nearmap's capture of the Alexandra Canal Depot in NSW on 2 November 2018
Nearmap client TransGrid and the City of Sydney are leading the way in renewables with trials of Sydney’s first grid-scale Powerpack storage battery installation.
Australia is on a fast track to a completely renewable future. A report issued last week by Green Energy Markets indicates that at the current rate of installation, Australia is on pace to get 78% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.
At the state government level, renewable energy initiatives are everywhere. In 2017, the South Australian government and Tesla installed a 100 megawatt single lithium-ion battery unit; it’s the largest in the world, and can provide power to around 30,000 homes. In Victoria, construction is underway on a project to install two batteries to store wind and solar energy, which will provide a combined energy storage capacity of 80-megawatt hours — enough to power 20,000 homes for an hour.
And earlier this year, in a first for the city of Sydney, Nearmap customer TransGrid installed a 250kW/500kWh Tesla battery for a rooftop solar system comprising 1600 solar panels at the Alexandria Canal Depot. The installation was unveiled as part of a trial for meter energy storage and demand generation being conducted by TransGrid.
TransGrid operates and manages the major high voltage electricity transmission network in NSW and the ACT, connecting generators, distributors, and major end users. TransGrid’s network supports the competitive wholesale electricity market and enables energy trading between Australia’s three eastern states, with over 300 million people connected to electricity.
As TransGrid Energy Services Manager Rachele Williams explains, “Our network plays a huge role in delivering safe, reliable power to people across NSW and the ACT…. So we’re an extremely important part of the energy supply chain.”
Nearmap’s technology plays a crucial role in planning TransGrid’s projects. “The planning and environment team use the software to identify potential issues with our high voltage transmission lines and make sure we’re aware of any geographical or spatial issues that might affect future projects,” says Williams.
When planning the trial in NSW, TransGrid had a few goals in mind. “As the energy services manager, I’m constantly looking at how we can better use technology to improve the way our grid functions,” explains Williams. “This project was a great opportunity for us to partner up with the City of Sydney and study how mid-size batteries operate in the energy system. We installed a 250kW/500kWh Tesla Powerpack to help the depot manage its energy needs and give us a real life understanding of the impact of batteries on the grid. We know more and more businesses and households are looking at installing batteries, so this is really useful knowledge for us to have to make sure we can maintain power system stability and quality.”
In particular, Williams and her team wanted to understand the way a battery of this capacity would work on the grid. “First, there’s the impact of reducing a site’s demand by powering the depot by using the battery,” Williams says. “Second, we want to examine ways batteries can help to reduce demand on the grid at peak times by discharging the battery, effectively exporting stored energy back to the grid when we need it most. It’s quite similar to the way lots of residential or industrial solar panels can feed back into the grid, but we can do it at almost any time, not just when the sun is shining.”
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and TransGrid CEO Paul Italiano oversee the installation of a Tesla Powerpack at the Alexandra Canal Depot
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore is confident that the City of Sydney’s target of sourcing 50% of all electricity from renewables by 2030 will be achieved by innovations like the TransGrid trial. In a recent Sydney Morning Herald article about the project, Moore commented, “By partnering with a site where this service is needed, we can provide a benefit to support the City of Sydney’s renewable energy goals and reduce the costs of the council’s depot… By mid-2021, we expect to have more than 7,800 solar panels on the roofs of our properties. As the mix of storage and generation on our electricity grid changes, solar solutions like this could provide reliability and resilience to our electricity network and potentially prevent blackouts.”
In addition to relying on Nearmap to assess geographical or spatial issues that might affect their work, TransGrid has come to incorporate Nearmap into its everyday operations. “Nearmap assists us in various areas of the business, including identifying property boundaries in relation to structure locations, encroachments within TransGrid’s infrastructure, and locating TransGrid assets on spatial systems, as well as background for map series production,” says Spatial Systems and Survey Manager Francine Christofis.
Christofis also depends on Nearmap’s archived historical imagery, which is useful for analysing encroachments, and uses Nearmap to examine cadastral boundaries, take online measurements, and overlay TransGrid’s infrastructure.
When asked how she sees TransGrid interacting with aerial imagery in the future, Christofis says, “There is an expectation of doing more with less, so there will be a greater reliance on desktop analysis, making high resolution imagery more important than ever.”
In Australia, it’s clear that solar’s reach now extends well beyond residential rooftops. Major utilities — from energy suppliers to water management firms — are launching projects to incorporate solar and wind power into their energy supply. As they continue to invest in a more sustainable future, location data that’s current, clear, and accurate will remain crucial to the planning, estimating, and implementation of these large-scale energy systems.
Learn more about how utilities use Nearmap to plan their major projects and monitor their networks.