The eleXsys Energy management system
eleXsys is a world first energy management system that allows clean energy producers to feed multiple times more energy back into existing electricity grids.
Our game-changing technology, which combines an advanced power electronics device with integrated energy software, also enables a multitude of other renewable energy systems such as grid-connected virtual power plants, off-grid microgrids and economically viable battery energy storage systems.
By managing the stability and resilience of distributed energy resources (DER), eleXsys overcomes voltage problems to create genuine two-way smart grids that unleash the full potential of DER, greatly accelerating a global clean energy future.
This solution turns large commercial and industrial (C&I) rooftops into urban solar power plants and creates a new asset class for investors – a secure income stream from energy trading – while reducing energy bills and helping the environment.
“A lot of people don’t quite understand the problem we are trying to solve. People are only just now recognising that’s it’s a problem that needs to be solved. Let’s not waste and curtail all this clean energy being produced – let’s find a way to use it.”
Former Clean Energy Finance Corporation CIO and eleXsys Advisory Panel memberFormer Clean Energy Finance Corporation CIO and eleXsys Advisory Panel member
Understanding voltage issues
To understand eleXsys, it is important to understand the new challenges faced by electricity network operators and planners trying to manage DER flows against the traditional one-way flow of standard networks.
Connecting rooftop solar PV and exporting surplus power into the grid causes voltages to increase at times of high solar generation and/or low customer demand. These voltage increases can exceed the established statutory limits requiring intervention from authorities to ensure the safe and reliable supply of electricity.
This voltage volatility also impacts large-scale and remote renewable energy power stations (e.g., solar & wind farms). There are frequent recent and ongoing examples in Australia where large, remote solar and wind farms have been constrained to maintain electricity grid voltages within statutory limits.
The rapid penetration of residential solar PV is exacerbating the voltage problem in a growing number of countries and creating an even worse situation for the commercial and industrial sectors.
This is because their roof spaces are more extensive, potentially hosting much larger solar PV DER installations. They are most often limited to only installing solar PV for their own use with a zero-export restriction placed on new connections. As a result, they cannot utilise their whole roof space to generate more clean, renewable solar power than they can use. This is an unrealised opportunity to generate significantly more cheap, clean energy where it is needed.
Applied across commercial and industrial environments, eleXsys enables building owners to maximise their returns on investment from optimised rooftop solar installations.
How eleXsys releases untapped distributed energy resources
Once the voltage problem is solved, it is possible to install much larger renewable energy systems and battery energy storage systems, providing much-needed support to help networks deal with high penetrations of DER. Locating energy storage at the demand point is far more effective in supporting the distribution grid than at remote solar or wind farms.
Commercial and industrial DER is currently not an institutional-grade investment as voltage volatility creates intermittent revenue streams, making rooftop solar and energy storage projects exporting into the electricity network financially risky and non-bankable.
Most C&I sites are owned by a landlord with separate tenants, so DER investment is also severely hampered by this split incentive situation. Third-party financing of DER is critical to speeding up the decarbonisation of global energy networks. By fixing voltage issues, eleXsys creates a new asset class in addition to large, remote solar and winds farms.
eleXsys works across all levels of the electricity network. Examples of how this is achieved are as follows:
eleXsys works across all levels of the electricity network.
Examples of how this is achieved are as follows:
eleXsys solves the voltage instability issue at the source and enables C&I customers to install solar
PV/DER systems to:
- supply their own electricity needs.
- export electricity.
- receive revenue from the export and/or offer to sell the surplus electricity to other C&I businesses.
Hence, eleXsys provides a significant opportunity to generate large amounts of renewable solar PV electricity (with or without battery storage) from large C&I roof spaces. It creates multiple urban renewable energy power stations producing clean electricity. As the electricity is generated close to where it is needed, it is the most efficient way of generating electricity and provides cheaper power supply options for C&I customers.
eleXsys Energy has worked in collaboration with DNSPs undertaking pilot studies to prove the technology and its application to resolve the voltage instability challenges created by sizeable solar PV/storage generation from C&I customers connected to electricity networks:
- The application of eleXsys has been proven for C&I customers in the small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) business category. The pilot study site is a motor vehicle dealership in Ipswich, near Brisbane, Australia. The success of the pilot study has resulted in eleXsys Energy further collaborating with the local DNSP to identify up to 50 additional C&I SME customers across their network to roll out the eleXsys technology solution more broadly.
- The application of eleXsys has also been proven for the large C&I customer business category. eleXsys is being applied to a large international furniture retailer – IKEA in Adelaide, South Australia. This project involves a large solar PV system (1.2MW) and a grid-connected battery energy storage system (3MWh). Once fully operational, the application of eleXsys will be able to be replicated at other similar sites across Australia and globally.
- As referred previously, once the voltage problem is solved, customers can install much larger energy storage systems. The IKEA eleXsys Microgrid project will prove that storage is economically viable behind the meter without any subsidy for the first time globally.
- This is possible since the battery will earn multiple revenue streams facilitated by eleXsys, including demand reduction, grid support services (e.g., Frequency Control Ancillary Services – FCAS); energy arbitrage for the site; and direct trading of stored energy into the grid. In some cases, grid CAPEX deferral fees can also be earned as the battery defers the need for grid infrastructure upgrades.
As outlined previously, residential customers lose out in two ways due to the DNSPs current methods of managing electricity networks to deal with the voltage instability created by solar PV/storage systems:
- The constraining (or switching off) of the generation of electricity from residential solar PV systems due to the application of Australia’s AS4777 standard by DNSPs:
- negatively impacts the investment case for residential solar PV systems, costing the customer,
- causes some customers to be worse off as the amount of constraint/switching off depends on the distance of the home from the nearest zone substation and/or distribution transformer.
- New customers wanting to install solar PV systems can be refused connection once the 15%limit of the total feeder rating is reached.
This is an inequitable outcome. eleXsys offers the opportunity to remove this inequity and allow all residential customers to connect solar PV systems and benefit from generating 100% electricity from their systems.
eleXsys Energy has proven that by applying eleXsys to approximately 10% of residential customer premises (located at/nearby the DNSP transformers), there is the potential to remove these constraints on residential customers by enabling DNSPs:
- to remove the arbitrary 15% rule; and
- not apply the A4777 standard restrictions on solar PV residential generation.
The work undertaken by eleXsys Energy to date has been at a desktop feasibility level (undertaking power network load flows) and is supported by two whitepapers, Is the Grid Full? (Dr Bevan Holcombe, December 2019) and Creating a two-way power grid (Dr Bevan Holcombe, January 2020).
This work has also been independently reviewed and assessed by global engineering consulting firm, Aurecon.
Aurecon has confirmed that eleXsys, when applied to the low voltage electricity network (which is the most efficient solution), can “regulate the voltage profile within statutory limits across the full range of electricity consumption and maximum (100%) solar generation scenarios” (Aurecon Report: “The application of STATCOMs for the management of voltage under the influence of solar PV generation”, December 2019).
eleXsys Energy is currently developing a pilot study-trial to prove this desktop analysis in practice across an entire suburb. This involves collaborating with the local DNSP and a combined residential and commercial suburb west of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia.
Very Large Customers – solar farms, wind farms and remote microgrids
eleXsys Energy has undertaken further desktop studies to prove that applying a larger model of eleXsys can cost competitively provide solutions to address voltage instability issues faced by large-scale solar and wind farms.
A pilot study to prove this concept in practice is at the scoping stage, working with the owner of a currently constrained large-scale remote renewable generation asset in Australia.
Additionally, work is in progress to identify several off-grid community clean energy opportunities. Work to date has proven that eleXsys can run off-grid microgrid solutions as eleXsys is 3-phase and is capable of grid-forming. This can be achieved at a cost estimated at 40% cheaper than current supply solutions or up to 75% cheaper than conventional fossil fuel solutions.
These opportunities were progressed in 2020.
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