Project EDGE update: reactive power and voltage regulation devices to enhance operating envelopes

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In this online seminar hosted by the Melbourne Energy Institute, Prof Luis (Nando) Ochoa and Dr Michael Liu from the University of Melbourne, together with John Theunissen from AusNet Services and Nick Regan from AEMO, present the latest updates on the $28-million ARENA-funded Project EDGE.

Project EDGE (Energy Demand and Generation Exchange) is a multi- year project that aims to demonstrate a proof-of-concept Distributed Energy Resource Marketplace that could efficiently provide both wholesale and local network services within the constraints of the power distribution grid.

The concept of ‘operating envelopes’ is being explored as a possible way to orchestrate the bidirectional flows from Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) – which include everything from solar PV to batteries, electric vehicles and future vehicle-to-grid – while ensuring the integrity of existing poles and wires.

Two clear opportunities exist to enhance operating envelopes and make the most of DERs: the use of reactive power from active customers (so they can help counteract the effects of exports or imports), and the use of voltage regulation devices, such as on-load tap changers at zone substations (so voltage headroom or legroom can be improved). However, both options present multiple challenges.

In this seminar, discussion focused on how operating envelopes can be enhanced using reactive power and voltage regulation devices. Presenters also discussed how the calculation of operating envelopes, now being trialled by AusNet Services using algorithms developed by the University of Melbourne, need to be further adapted.



Professor Luis (Nando) Ochoa
Professor of Smart Grids and Power Systems,
University of Melbourne

Professor Luis (Nando) Ochoa is a Professor of Smart Grids and Power Systems and a Fellow of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne. Nando is an IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer, an Editorial Board Member of the IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, and an IEEE Senior Member. His expertise in network integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) and smart grids as well as his extensive portfolio of industrial and academic projects have led to 200+ research papers, 80+ technical reports, and two patents.

From 2011 to 2021, he worked at the University of Manchester, and from 2007 to 2010 was a Research Fellow in Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh, both in the UK. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from Universidad Nacional de IngenierĂ­a in Peru, and a Research Master of Science and PhD in Electrical Power Engineering, both from UNESP Ilha Solteira in Brazil.

Mr John Theunissen
Manager DER Integration, AusNet Services

Mr John Theunissen presently provides thought leadership and direction around future networks initiatives, especially in relation to the emerging role of a Distribution System Operator, and DER integration within AusNet Services in Victoria, Australia.

John is an electrical engineer who has held numerous technical management roles within AusNet Services and its predecessor companies since 1995, initially in the protection, control and communication areas, and later in leading smart grid and network modernisation initiatives. Previously, he was Corporate Protection Consultant with Eskom, and before that worked for Siemens Limited, where he was responsible for Siemens’ national protection relaying and disturbance recording business. He also serves on the Melbourne Energy Institute Advisory Board at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Nick Regan
Project EDGE Lead, AEMO

Mr Nick Regan leads activities for Project EDGE within AEMO’s DER Program. The Program’s aim is to develop the evidence base for DER integration at scale in Australia’s power systems and markets, through a pathway that has consumers’ best interests at its core.

Nick has held product, project management and management consulting roles focused on the decentralisation of Australia’s power system and its economic, market and commercial implications. Prior to entering the energy industry, Nick worked in corporate banking deal teams as a credit risk analyst. Nick is passionate about shaping an energy system that operates in the best interests of people and the planet.

Dr Michael Liu
Research Fellow in Smart Grids,
University of Melbourne 

Michael is a Research Fellow in Smart Grids at the University of Melbourne. His expertise includes the three-phase modelling of electricity distribution networks and advanced optimisation techniques for distribution network management and DER orchestration. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of Melbourne.

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