Director's Colloquium

Electrical power systems with high penetration of renewables: the physics behind the political bluster

Date & time

Tue 30 May 2017, 12pm–1am



China in the World Auditorium


Staff, students and public welcome


Dr Evan Franklin
Senior Lecturer, Research School of Engineering, ANU

The truth of the matter, however, lies somewhere in the middle: renewable generators do alter the way a power system must be operated; renewable generators can compromise system stability; power systems can accommodate high and very high content of renewable generation; and, renewable generators and associated technologies can and must play a vital role in making this happen.
We begin this seminar by looking briefly at what happened in South Australia on 28 September 2016, when abnormally strong winds downed key transmission infrastructure and precipitated a state-wide blackout, including an examination of the impact of wind generation on operation of the power system before and after the storm damage occurred. We then look at the basics of power flow in electrical networks and at the physics behind the operation of the synchronous machines that currently dominate generation and underpin power system stability today. We follow with an examination of the technical implications of largely replacing these generators with wind and solar generators, and the types of technologies and new modes of operation that will be required in order to make this replacement work. We conclude by re-examining the blackout event in South Australia in light of ‘what might have been’, and in doing so paint a picture of what our future power system with high solar and wind generation will look like.

Dr Evan Franklin is a senior lecturer and fellow in the Research School of Engineering at the Australian National University, Canberra. Evan has authored over 80 journal papers, conference papers and patents on silicon solar cells and on solar photovoltaic systems and their integration into the electric power system, and brings unique insights from his experiences working in industry and from his many current and past industrially sponsored research projects. His current research interests include the development of processes suitable for industrial photovoltaic manufacturing of high efficiency solar cells, the integration of renewable energy generation into the power system and the role of energy storage in future energy systems. Evan is a strong advocate for renewable energy and related technologies, engaging with community, industry and government to promote the crucial role they must play in supporting the transition to a clean energy system.

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