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GRIDSIGHT'S INSIGHT'S Q2 2021 | Power Quality Data, Energy Storage System Installation & Solar Curtailment Detection Learnings

Power quality data, including voltage, active and reactive power, is beneficial for analysing network performance.

At Gridsight, our mission is to accelerate the grid's transition to renewable energy and as we increase the number of DNSPs we're working with across Australia and New Zealand, we're increasingly discovering new insights that many in the industry are often not yet aware of.

So, we've decided to publish a highlights reel quarterly, in the hope that by doing so, we will help DNSPs navigate the transition to a distributed grid more efficiently and effectively than they would have otherwise.

Each quarter we will share the most actionable data, network and customer insights that we discovered. We hope that you find them useful! If you would like to learn more about any of the insights contained in this report, please reach out to us - we would love the opportunity to discuss them further with you.


Smart Meters aren't Recording Power Quality Data

Power quality data including voltage, active and reactive power is extremely useful for analysing network performance and compliance, but we have discovered that there are entire fleets of meters throughout Australia and New Zealand that are not yet recording this information.

DNSPs should ensure that meters within their networks are configured to record parameters like voltage, active and reactive power wherever possible, because this power quality data can be easily leveraged to create data-driven insights. See the Network and Customer Insights below for two great examples.

Most of our clients have now begun the process of ensuring the meters in their network are configured to log power quality data. This process varies depending on jurisdiction (and who owns/controls the meters), however, most parameters can be configured remotely and so it is a relatively small project to get underway, especially when compared with the significant value that can be obtained.

We recommend that you get this process started as soon as possible - every day of delay is a day of data that cannot be analysed.


Energy Storage Systems are Being Incorrectly Installed (Cross-Phasing)

While undertaking data analysis in our platform, a DNSP identified that one of their three-phase residential customers had their solar PV and energy storage system (ESS) installed on separate phases. Although this causes no financial impact to the customer, the physical consequences on the network are significant.

When an AC-coupled ESS is on a separate phase to solar PV, it is not possible for the ESS to charge directly from excess power generated by the PV system. Instead, when the ESS detects the PV system to be generating excess power, it will begin charging from the grid, while the excess PV power is exported to the grid on a separate phase.

This results in significant unbalance across the phases as there will be a large positive load on the ESS phase and a large negative load on the PV phase. Not only does this mean that the customer isn't receiving the full value out of their investment, but can also exacerbate power quality issues in the network. An example of ESS cross-phasing is shown below.

Gridsight user discovers battery cross-phasing due to installation error

After the DNSP made this discovery, we implemented an algorithm to automatically detect instances where battery cross-phasing has occurred. Initial results have shown that this is quite common.

Now that our clients are aware of this issue they are going to contact the affected customers to notify them that they aren't self-consuming their solar. They are also looking into whether they have the right to demand re-installation based on current terms of service, and if they don't, how they can implement this right going forward.

We recommend that you considering doing the same - in a world of increasing ESS uptakes, this problem is only going to compound if it isn't addressed soon.


Solar Curtailments and Disconnections are Going Undetected

In areas with high penetrations of residential solar PV, we discovered that overvoltage is often causing curtailments and disconnections of inverters for extended periods of time. Customers towards the end of residential feeders are particularly at risk, with a material percentage experiencing PV system disconnections several times a week in high-PV areas.

While these disconnections sometimes result in a customer complaint, we have found the majority go undetected. The result is that a large amount of clean energy generation and customer value is being lost as a result of the reduced PV output.

By analysing customer smart meter net consumption data, DNSPs could identify these PV disconnections and potentially take a more proactive approach to addressing overvoltage in the LV network before complaints occur. And by systematically targeting areas with large amounts of customer disconnections, the most constrained portions of the network can be improved, allowing networks to unlock the value of DER for customers.

An example of both an inverter disconnection and an inverter curtailment are shown below.


Gridsight helps electrical utilities transition to a decentralised grid by generating AI-powered network insights. These insights enable utilities to dramatically reduce the network augmentation required to safely and efficiently support more residential solar, batteries and electric vehicles. Based on CEO Brendan Banfield's PhD research, Gridsight was founded in 2020 to accelerate the transition to renewables.

Brendan Banfield

Co-Founder, CEO

Passion for research and innovation related to integrating renewable energy technologies into distribution networks using data.