The electricity industry is experiencing significant growth in the connection of embedded generation (EG), in particular from renewable energy sources. Much of this growth is a result of initiatives relating to climate change activities, political and customer appetite, and the need for demand management to reduce network costs. For many customers, small EG is desirable for additional energy security and flexibility, and their own clean energy supply.
Embedded or distributed generation is any form of generation which is connected to (or embedded in) an electrical distribution network. Types of embedded generation may include:
- open and closed cycle gas turbines;
- reciprocating engines (diesel, oil);
- hydro and mini-hydro schemes;
- wind turbines;
- photovoltaic generation (solar);
- fuel cells; and
- cogeneration or polygeneration’ (combined cooling, heat and power).
Distribution networks in Australia have in the past been designed for a one-way flow of energy. However, with the introduction of embedded generation consumers are now able to supply their own energy and export excess energy to the grid. With this two-way flow of power, it is increasingly important for network businesses to address any potential impacts and maximise the benefits of connecting embedded generation to the electricity network.