Ergon officially announced its intention to install 20 Grid Utility Support Systems (GUSS) on its Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) network in October this year. The announcement has been well received as using battery storage on this scale to improve load voltages and overall reliability to our customers in the more remote parts of our network will be a national first.

The Accenture Strategy report titled 'The Balance of Power: Why Australian Utilities Need to Defend, Delight and Disrupt' was prepared in collaboration with the Australian Financial Review. These infographics sum up the report's findings.

Late last month the ENA singled out the GUSS initiative, which will use technology from S&C Electric Company, for praise. Association Chairman Paul Adams said the GUSS program would deliver better value for Ergon and its customers, while its adoption and deployment without subsidies is a rational commercial response.

Our Chief Executive Ian McLeod welcomes the chairman's comments as it shows the business is heading in the right direction.

This is a first for Ergon and Australia, and it's great to be recognised by peers in our industry. GUSS units are not only a quicker solution than traditional network augmentation, but the money we can save will ultimately put downward pressure on electricity prices, Ian says.

This company is proactive in identifying opportunities and providing solutions in this space. This recent Talking Energy article 'Ancient energy adds lustre to 21st century solution' outlines the award winning approach of our engineers to incorporate renewable energy into the diesel generation which keeps the isolated township of Doomadgee powered up.

Ergon is also keen to share is knowledge and expertise as more initiatives are explored.

One  example is our representation at this year's Australian Utility Week event which involved Network Strategy & Policy Engineer Don McPhail who spoke about Ergon Energy's smart grid and community engagement project. Don also took part on a panel which discussed the topic 'Does the residential solar plus storage model kill the grid or enhance it?' More of Don's insights can be found in this Talking Energy article titled 'Supporting our edge-of-grid customers'.

Back to GUSS, Steve Richardson, one of our Technology Innovation engineers working on the project, presented at the 2014 Energy Networks conference recently and spoke about Ergon's intent to integrate non-traditional energy storage units to provide capacity and voltage support to traditional network issues. Steve spoke about how SWER networks face a range of challenges including remoteness, lack of communications, very high system impedances, harsh environmental conditions, line protection issues and stability issues with decentralized control.  Ergon Energy has developed some innovative and smart energy storage system management methodologies, along with planning techniques to overcome these challenges.

On an international level, a collaboration between S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos saw the opening of a 6MW/10MWh Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project at a United Kingdom Power Networks substation this week, according to a company press release.

The two-year trial will enable testing of a range of different services that storage can provide, plus allow UK Power Networks to explore and improve the economics of electrical energy storage.

S&C has been working in the energy storage sector for more than a decade. It has integrated more than 150 MWh capacity, which S&C says represents 20% of worldwide grid-connected battery storage capacity. Its Purewave Storage Management System currently connects more than 90% of the grid-scale sodium-sulphur batteries installed in the United States.

S&C says the trial findings from Europe will be vital for similar schemes in the future.

Overall, the application of GUSS by Ergon Energy sets up a future path for support of increasing loads without the need for typical augmentation. Due to the SWER networks being at the extremities of the network, they face some unique challenges and provide valuable learnings into future applications for energy storage in the denser network areas.