To integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy into the Alice Springs grid, interventions are required to reduce thermal generation (e.g. gas and diesel) while maintaining the stability of the electricity system. Modelling is a crucial step before significant changes are enacted, to optimise outcomes and avoid system failures. Project Lead, Ekistica, is working with Project Partner RMIT to develop dynamic models for this purpose. The dynamic models will be a simplified representation of the real Alice Springs grid, simulated in a computer program, to describe how the system properties may change over time (dynamically). A major outcome will be technical recommendations to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 in Alice Springs. This will include modelling of zero thermal generation during daylight hours and an Ekistica-led wind resource study.
As well as understanding a shifting mix between renewable and thermal generation over time, the models will consider the location of generation; that is whether the new renewable generation is centralised (commercial-scale) or distributed (such as rooftop solar). Financial and consumer behaviour will also be accounted for – factors rarely included in technical models, but expected to have a significant impact on the future energy mix. A behavioural study, led by CSIRO, will investigate what drives people and companies to invest in renewable energy technology. This study will be informed by local and national trends towards uptake of rooftop solar, household batteries, electric vehicles and smart devices for demand management.