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The University of Queensland (UQ) will receive $498,000 in funding from the Australian Government to develop a new testing platform that will help large-scale renewable projects connect to the grid faster. 

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the Government’s support for the $1.46 million study, which will trial a streamlined approach that provides early identification and resolution of commissioning issues through a custom-designed testing environment. 

UQ will deliver the project in partnership with EPEC Group (EG), a leading technical advisory company in grid connection. 

Slow grid connection has been a common issue for large-scale solar and battery projects, which can dent investor confidence and increase the costs of renewable energy projects.

Before connecting to the grid, renewable energy projects require large scale generators to develop and form a set of Generator Performance Standards. 

Once these standards have been agreed, extensive power system modelling must be validated during on-site commissioning, which often causes significant connection delays. 

UQ and EG’s testing platform would allow projects to resolve any modelling issues prior to commissioning. Faster and more secure commissioning would ultimately remove major barriers and reduce the costs of these projects. 

ARENA’s Acting CEO, Chris Faris, said the platform could speed up Australia’s transition to renewable electricity. 

“To meet our national 2030 and 2050 emissions reductions goals, we must accelerate the pace of commissioning, installing and connecting renewable energy projects. If we can streamline the commissioning process through smart application of technology like this project, we can reduce the costs and risks associated with bringing new generators online,” Mr Faris said. 

“This project has the potential to significantly speed up the process for bringing new solar, wind and battery projects online, so we’re excited to see what the University of Queensland team delivers.” 

If the project is successful, UQ and EG will commercialise the technology and make it available to future renewable energy projects across the National Electricity Market (NEM). 

UQ’s lead researcher, Dr Richard Yan, said the project will provide a cutting-edge solution to the current challenges of the commissioning process. 

“The new testing platform will be a market-leading development to support the growing number of renewable energy projects in Australia. UQ is home to a world-class research facility and group of researchers who want to address the various challenges of the commissioning process.”

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