Rooftop Solar has brought joy to the 2.6-or-so million who have paid for PV systems and anguish to the community of engineers who look after the grid those homes are connected to.

As the sun beats down on household systems sized far larger than midday load requires, electricity generated by PV panels is exported to networks that may be inadequately designed to take it.

For luceo, this provides an opportunity to study how distribution networks could be adapted to manage high levels of solar penetration and exports – and handle more. Combined with tariffs that encourage daytime load, the “problem” of solar exports might disappear.

The first stage of luceo’s Queensland trial saw 20,000 sensors developed by luceo installed at connection points on the Energy Queensland network, to measure voltage and current. Twelve months worth of data have been collected by the army of sensors, with measurements arriving at the company’s cloud platform every minute. The sensors have been distributed on the network between Cairns in the far north and down to Coolangatta, across urban and rural centres on the Queensland coast, all in front of the meter.

With the collection of this real-time data, network operators can see changes as they are happening.

“You can now pinpoint between, say, two houses whether a line is down or an incident happened… From an operational and safety perspective the operators are now much closer to understanding what’s happening in real time.” – Patrick Matweew, CEO luceo.

Other than working to keep voltage from straying outside the desired bandwidth the network is keen to ensure the three phases are correlated and, fundamentally, that its map of its poles and wires agrees with what the Luceo sensors are picking up.

“Maps may have been updated, but not always correctly, and now we can verify [them], which has implications on their investment and maintenance.” – Matweew.

Matweew goes on to discuss ‘completing the picture’ by gathering data from distributed energy resources such as household PV and storage on the luceo platform. This is the subject of another project for luceo, where, with the help of $2.6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, luceo is trying to access behind-the-meter data – or “find the missing piece” – and assemble complete live replicas of energy systems.

To find out more, you can read the Ecogeneration article here.