Essential Energy Projects Recognised in Australian Engineering Excellence Awards

Walking through a substation

The innovative work led by two Essential Energy engineers has been recognised by the Newcastle Division of Engineers Australia, with both Ian Askell, Senior Engineer Demand Management and Angelo Fiumara, Digital Asset Integration Manager nominated for Australian Engineering Excellence Awards.

Networks Renewed - A win for customers and network

Ian Askell was nominated for his work on the Networks Renewed project, which sought to address the challenge of maintaining network voltage within 216-253V in the face of increasing solar PV installations and a network area of emerging evening peak load constraint.

The Networks Renewed project demonstrated that voltage management services can be provided to the network by augmenting network intelligence, bringing groups of people together to use and share solar power and using new technology integrated with customer solar PV and battery storage to manage voltage variations.

The trial was successful in proving viability and customer benefits including:

  1. Voltage management at a lower cost compared to other options
  2. Enabling the network to take up higher levels of rooftop solar with minimal impact on customers

Essential Energy worked with Reposit Power to provide the voltage management service for customers. Organisations like Reposit Power provide an aggregation of customer batteries into the market, and in return provide revenue to customers which they could not access previously.

For the trial, Essential Energy created a Distribution Level Market (DLM) to enable voltage management services. During evening peak periods, when networks are generally under stress from customer load, Essential Energy invited bids from customers to supply voltage management at a price of $1 per kWh.

Extensive engagement was undertaken during the project to support this customer-centric approach, with Essential Energy ensuring customers were fully informed through each stage of the demonstration, and that they would not be worse-off as a result.

In addition to direct engagement, a number of face to face forums were held during the project.

“We found that customers appreciated being able to engage with our team while working through this new process,” Executive Manager Engineering, David Salisbury said.

“We also found that customers who participated had their bills reduced by Reposit Power’s intelligent algorithms which worked to optimise energy management in their homes.”

The project was a success for both customers and for the electricity network, demonstrating that participating customers were still able to gain a financial benefit by providing voltage management services to the network at times of peak demand.

Digital Twinning

Angelo Fiumara’s work to create a 3D 'design engine enabled' digital twin of the network has also been nominated for a 2020 Australian Engineering Excellence Award.

“This entry is the culmination of sustained effort over a number of years by Angelo, ”Mr Salisbury said.

The project originated within the Network Design team when Powerlines Pro (PLP) was chosen as the 3D network design application.

Angelo pioneered Essential Energy’s creation of digital twin objects from LiDAR data (highly accurate laser measurements) within PLP and has worked collaboratively with the company to automatically create digital twin 'virtual objects' of power poles, cross arms and conductors of our existing overhead network asset base from the data.

For Essential Energy, the network design capabilities within PLP are able to be applied to these objects to assess design compliance. As a result, Essential Energy is able to produce and certify more efficient, consistent and higher quality designs.

Initial uses include the transitioning of 2D drawings to 3D auto-generated digital models. When applied across the network, the digital twin will impact strategic investment decisions. Additionally, large scale assessments can be performed efficiently to provide insights that have not been possible in the past.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank both Ian and Angelo for their work to drive these projects, and to wish them the best of luck with their nomination,” Mr Salisbury said.

The winners will be announced in September.