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CEO of US-based power technology company provides assessment on emerging trends and blueprint for grid evolution

CEO of US-based power technology company provides assessment on emerging trends and blueprint for grid evolution

Australian Energy Week Conference panel discussion on next generation technologies

June 8, 2022

Peter Wells, Chief Executive Officer of global power technology company, Smart Wires, provided an international perspective on the future of energy during a live panel discussion with other industry experts on “game-changing technologies” at the Australian Energy Week Conference yesterday.

Throughout the lively and candid discussion, panel members debated the emerging technologies which are set to be critical in reaching net zero, the need for a digital platform, and the importance of pursuing integrated solutions.

Mr Wells, who hails from England but is based in the United States, stated a mix of Grid-Enhancing Technologies (GETs) were emerging globally as central to enabling a successful energy transition.

“More and more GETs are being deployed across the world – DLR [dynamic line rating], topology optimization, modular power flow control. Why? because its fast, lower cost, and brings flexibility,” he said.

“We’re also see regulators in some markets flat out requiring it. It’s coming. It must be built into planning.

“We find with our customers across the globe that it is somewhat transactional at the moment – we’re solving a specific problem like grid congestion. We’re maybe five years away, but [in the future] you’ll have a distributed base of technology that now you can do different things with,” Peter said.

“Just listening to all the conversations today, including on this panel, the complexity of what we’re trying to deal with, how you even get there without power electronics – it’s going to be impossible.

“We need some form of digital platform that’s edge to edge, that can deal with electrification, that can deal with flexibility.

“As the saying in Australia goes, ’there’s no transition without transmission’, so maybe it’s no transition without digital transmission and distribution,” Peter said.

Peter praised the Australian energy industry on its “pragmatic and transparent approach” to energy policy and incentivized regulation.

In response to a question on whether the mentality (in Australia) is changing far enough and quickly enough in terms of the need to get a better picture of what is actually needed on the grid before building a long-term infrastructure asset, Peter said:

“Power electronics and other GETs are complementary to what is already there today. You do need all of it at the end of the day. It’s really important that when you invest in the grid, distribution of transmission, you’re thinking about that future flexibility.”

He mentioned Australia, the UK and Colombia as his picks for top global markets in terms of incentivized regulation.

“I can tell you now, Smart Wires’ most successful markets are in countries that have regulatory mechanisms to ensure the delivery of a reliable, low-cost network for consumers – approaches that naturally incentivize utilities to rapidly adopt GETs (grid-enhancing technologies). Australia is firmly in that mix, developing a market which is driving the energy transition on a cost basis,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the progress made, the pace of change is presenting significant challenges here in Australia just as it is elsewhere in the world. There needs to be far greater focus on the grid itself and transforming it into a digital platform,” Peter said.

“Ultimately, to successfully achieve a global energy transition will require genuine integration – interconnectedness of markets, policy and technology,” he said.

Smart Wires’ technology, SmartValve™, is now being deployed in Australia, with a major installation on the Victoria-NSW Interconnector (VNI) with Transgrid, an installation with AusNet Services in Victoria; and an installation with another Australian utility almost completed – combined these deployments will unlock an extra 200+ MW on Australia’s network.

Active across the UK, Europe, North and Latin America, and Australia, SmartValve is in use or being installed on live projects with 20+ grid operators worldwide: our largest installation being with National Grid UK, where our technology has unlocked 1.5 GW on the existing network.

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Regional Story – Australia

Australia

Transparent planning process

Regional Highlights

  • In New South Wales (NSW), Smart Wires is partnering with Transgrid to increase transfer capacity, reduce congestion, and enable more renewable energy to reach cities like Sydney and Canberra. The project unlocks 170 megawatts (MW) of capacity – enough to power 30,000 homes from renewable generation – and avoids the need for a new transmission line through a national park.
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  • In Victoria, Smart Wires partnered with AusNet Services to enhance system security and provide immediate constraint reliefunlocking 15 MW of capacity. Deploying SmartValves also allowed AusNet to import more power from New South Wales to Victoria, reducing the risk of supply shortfalls.
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  • In South Australia, Smart Wires is teaming up with ElectraNet to reduce wind curtailment and unlock an additional 17 MW of capacity. By installing Smart Wires’ technology, ElectraNet is supporting the state government’s focus on increasing renewable energy generation and integration, solving constraint challenges, and ensuring secure energy exports to neighboring states.
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  • A strong regulator, a transparent public planning process, and effective incentive mechanisms encourage utilities to quickly pursue projects that optimize existing networks and save customers money. This ecosystem has enabled utilities to gain familiarity with grid-enhancing technologies like SmartValves – and the confidence to deploy these solutions to solve large-scale challenges to deliver a lower-cost, cleaner grid for consumers.

Regional overview

Australia is undergoing a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables – a transition that will accelerate after the 2022 elections.

Smart Wires’ technology is now embraced across the country, simultaneously delivering targeted benefits on small projects and solving large, system-wide problems across major networks. We anticipate playing an even bigger role as the country pursues aggressive climate targets.

Regulation:

The Australian Energy Regulator plays a key role in incentivizing grid-enhancing projects, particularly through its Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T). RIT-T focuses on large infrastructure projects that can increase reliability and security, enable renewables, boost geographic diversity, and expand transmission between states.

The highly transparent RIT-T process ensures that an independent actor identifies network needs and proposes solutions. The public is invited to comment on these alternatives, which are then evaluated based on their capacity to deliver consumer benefits.

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While RIT-T focuses on large, interstate projects, the regulator also encourages utilities to pursue smaller, faster projects via the Network Capability Incentive Parameter Action Plan (NCIPAP). These projects are cost-limited to 6M AUD and must increase network capability and provide net market benefits (such as deferring the need for more capital-intensive projects or lowering consumer energy costs). NCIPAP projects also receive a 50% greater return – a powerful additional incentive that several utilities have used to deploy Smart Wires’ innovative technology. 

Both RIT-T and NCIPAP complement the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP). Published every two years, the ISP provides a national roadmap for grid development – one that allows for more effective coordination between states. These large-scale planning efforts play an important role in Australia’s energy transition, with national authorities identifying key network needs, and utilities proposing and delivering projects to meet those needs.

Smart Wires receives order for a second largescale project with ISA Transelca in Colombia

Smart Wires receives order for a second largescale project with ISA Transelca in Colombia

May 26, 2022

Smart Wires announced it has received a purchase order from ISA Transelca for a grid expansion project in the Atlantico region in Colombia. The project will enable an additional 300 MW of renewables to reliably connect to the grid by June 2024.

This project will consist of Smart Wires’ technology — SmartValveTM — installations on five 220 kV circuits across ISA Transelca’s network. This project signifies Smart Wires’ second largescale project with ISA – the first will be installed later this year and includes applications of SmartValve on two circuits in Colombia’s Guajira-Cesar-Magdalena region.

“We are excited to move forward with the ISA projects and enhance our growth in Latin America,” said Smart Wires CEO Peter Wells. “We are proud to continue to support economic development, as well as to facilitate the delivery of renewable energy, in Colombia.”

“ISA Group is an industry leader in Latin America, and we look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Smart Wires Senior Vice President – Americas Jessica Joyce. “This latest project demonstrates ISA’s commitment to deliver reliable, affordable electricity to its customers, to maximize the use of its grid and to support the rapid growth of renewable energy in the region.”

Smart Wires installed an initial pilot project in Colombia with Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) in 2021 to gain experience with the technology. This was followed by a large project with Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB) which was delivered earlier this year, unlocking more than 250 MW of network capacity on the existing grid.

The use of FACTS devices (such as SmartValve) is incentivized in Colombia’s 2020-2034 Transmission Expansion Plan, published by the national planning agency (Unidad de Planeacion Minero Energetica, UPME). The national plan includes multiple FACTS projects over the coming years because this technology can affordably strengthen and optimize the use of the existing grid.

The Smart Wires Technology Ltd. regulatory release is available here.

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Smart Wires CEO Leads Discussion with Energy Leaders about GETs and Policy Shaping the Industry

Smart Wires CEO Leads Discussion with Energy Leaders about GETs and Policy Shaping the Industry

May 25, 2022

Conversation with FERC Commissioner Allison Clements kicks off day of discussions about grid enhancing technologies, the policy surrounding their integration and their role in the energy transition.

Smart Wires leaders led a day of discussions about grid enhancing technology (GET) and policies shaping the energy industry. Smart Wires CEO Peter Wells interviewed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Allison Clements at DISTRIBUTECH International 2022 on May 23 in Dallas, Texas. The conversation headlined the WATT Coalition’s Grid Enhancing Technologies Summit, where numerous policy makers and technology experts also participated in panel discussions.

During their candid discussion about energy policy, Peter explained that Smart Wires’ most successful markets are in countries that have regulatory mechanisms to ensure the delivery of a reliable, low-cost network for consumers. These approaches naturally incentivize utilizes to rapidly adopt GETs. Commissioner Clements responded by saying the U.S. may need to encourage utilities with regulation and policies, but that utilities should see the benefits of GETs and pursue the lowest cost option for their customers.

Peter explained his hypothesis for the phases the grid will go through to successfully deliver the energy transition for customers.

“We see three stages of the evolution of the grid, driven by grid enhancing technologies,” he shared. “Today is mostly transactional and application focused. Services will then layer on top of applications. Finally, the grid then needs to become a seamless digital platform providing a flexible system capable of managing variability and integrating load and demand.”

This same sentiment was later echoed by Michael Pesin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Advanced Grid Research and Development Division in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity. In his remarks, he also explained the interconnectedness of markets, policy and technology, and the need to pursue integrated solutions.

Additional legislators, policymakers and energy industry leaders participated in the daylong event, which included discussions about GETs in the field, transmission policy in the U.S., and the real cost of renewable energy curtailment. Representatives from leading utilities shared their experiences with the integration of GETs on the grid. Renewable energy and electricity system experts also discussed the impact GETs have on energy affordability and our climate goals.

Throughout multiple panel discussions, participants agreed that power flow control technology, like SmartValve™, is an excellent tool for optimizing the current infrastructure and preparing the grid for the future — and that utilities need to adopt this technology now.

“We are going to have to adopt these technologies and adopt them quickly given everything we are trying to accomplish in the next five years around asset health and reliability,” said Joe Lookup, Director of Asset Management with PPL Corporation.

“It’s not only about how cheap we can get a solution but how fast we can get a solution… and GETs win on both counts,” said Pat Wood, CEO of Hunt Energy and former FERC Chair.

There was overwhelming support across all discussions regarding the value GETs can provide — for the grid and for consumers — and calls for quicker and more widespread adoption of these valuable tools.

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