Category Archives: Co-gen

Some common myths about co-gen

City’s power plan could benefit state, says council.

The thrust of this article is that the rules to connect a small-scale generator to the network are too restrictive and that removing these rules would be excellent for everyone.

Not surprisingly, the truth is a little more complex than that, and a hell of a lot more technical.

For starters, Climate Works Australia have done a lot of work on this topic, and their report, is worth a read if you’re an enthusiast.

Summarising though, there are some rules that could be fiddled with to make application processes more transparent and certain. But at the other end, there is a very serious requirement for the network operators to analyse any generator hook-up application very, very carefully.

Connecting a local generator to the network, much like putting solar panels on roofs, changes the possible direction that electricity can come from. Rather than the standard generator->transmission lines-> local substation-> consumer that we have grown up with, local generation means the electricity coming through a substation could jump around significantly (imagine a whole block of houses with solar panels as a large cloud comes over) or even drop to zero and even reverse. This is an engineering problem more than anything, and a question of what will happen in that event? This is linked to operator and network safety. In short, it is really important.

All I suggest here is a little bit of cynicism; do you really think network operators are intentionally keeping generators from the network? While there might be a little bit of that, the approvals process does have a very solid grounding in network analysis and it is not the sort of thing to be skipped over lightly.