Ergon’s Technology Innovation Engineer Stephen Richardson said it was a thrill for the team to win the award after years of innovative thinking and application to bring the Grid Utility Support Systems (GUSS) program to fruition.

“Given the constraints on sections of our western SWER network, we developed an innovative solution that is improving the quality of power supply in selected rural areas. That in turn is helping the rural economy and quality of life of people in these communities. GUSS is also a benchmark for Australian engineering and raises the standard for best practice energy storage and application,” Stephen said.

Image of 4 people - recipients of the award

The award also recognised Ergon’s commitment to technology.

“Technology is helping us find innovative solutions and GUSS demonstrates that Ergon is at the forefront of thinking and the application of technology.”

More than 700 regional Queensland premises in remote areas are now benefitting from 2 megawatt hours of distributed battery energy storage thanks to the rollout of 20 GUSS units.

The final GUSS was installed and commissioned at Middlemount in central Queensland in August.

GUSS development

The systems were developed by a team of Ergon engineers and trials since 2011 proved the concept on Ergon's Single Wire Earth Return, or SWER, network.

“The network-side battery energy storage technology is now providing voltage reliability on at least 10 SWER powerlines – vital electricity conduits that provide an economic energy supply to many primary producers in western Queensland communities,” he said.

Rural customers on 2700 kilometers of SWER are now benefitting from the GUSS implementation, which began late last year.

GUSS units could reduce SWER network augmentation costs by more than 35 per cent on current estimates he said.

Rural homes and farms have more electrical items today than when SWER was rolled out in the 60’s, 70s and 80s, so it’s inevitable rural Queenslanders’ expectations, and the demand for reliable power via our SWER network, has increased too he said.

“Each GUSS unit has 56 Lithium-Ion type batteries which provide 25kVA and 100 kilowatt hours nominal capacity. This is enough to power the average home for up to five days and, the GUSS units operate by ‘topping up’ during quiet times and ‘decanting’ into the network during times of higher demand when voltage levels need levelling out, “ he said.

Where the GUSS units are located

Ergon maintains about 65,000 kilometres of SWER network which services the electricity needs of around 26,000 rural Queenslanders.

GUSS units have been located and connected to our SWER network at Weir (near Charters Towers), Taroon, St George, Tambo, Dajarra, Middlemount, lines between Rockhampton and Mackay, north of Alpha.

This short video demonstrates GUSS.