Public lecture: Pierluigi Mancarella

Keeping the green lights on: Power systems flexibility and security in a low-carbon National Electricity Market

Presented by Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, Chair Professor of Electrical Power Systems, Melbourne School of Engineering.

Refreshments: 5.30–6.00pm
Lecture: 6.00–7.00pm

The Lecture

The need to fight climate change is motivating the development of low-carbon power systems based on variable renewable energy (VRE) sources such as wind and solar. Due to their variability and unpredictability, these sources call for larger system flexibility requirements. At the same time, VRE sources are economically displacing conventional generators powered by fossil fuels which are the traditional providers of system flexibility. In contrast to conventional generators, VRE plants are typically connected to the grid through power electronic interfaces and do not naturally provide rotational kinetic energy (“inertia”) that helps stabilise the grid immediately following disturbances.

The key question therefore arises as to whether and how, in a low-carbon power system, we will be able to provide the system security and flexibility that was traditionally provided by those same conventional generators being displaced by VRE. The National Electricity Market (NEM) is already undergoing significant challenges, with the September 2016 South Australia state-wide power outage (“Black System event”) being a textbook example. In this respect, the Finkel Review has looked into strategic solutions to system security issues.

Join Professor Pierluigi Mancarella in this Dean’s Lecture to explore these issues. Drawing from the Melbourne Energy Institute’s security assessment studies that he led for the Finkel Review, Professor Mancarella will present the key desirable techno-economic features to deal with low-carbon, low-inertia power system operation. He will also discuss the role of smart grid technologies and new market actors, and outline how changes in system architecture and integration of multiple energy sectors could facilitate the development of economical solutions to “keep the green lights on” in a VRE-dominated NEM and thus contribute to solving the “energy trilemma”: ensuring our energy supply is affordable, secure and meets our environmental responsibilities.

The Speaker

Pierluigi Mancarella is Chair Professor of Electrical Power Systems at The University of Melbourne, Australia, and part-time Professor of Smart Energy Systems at The University of Manchester, UK.

Professor Mancarella obtained his MSc and PhD in Electrical Energy Systems from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. He was a Research Associate at Imperial College London, UK and held visiting research positions at Sintef/NTNU in Norway and at NREL in Colorado, as well as visiting professorships at Ecole Centrale de Lille in France and at the Universidad de Chile.

In the past ten years, Professor Mancarella has been involved in or led some 50 research projects and consultancy and professional activities in the UK, Europe, Australia, and internationally, in the area of techno-economics of smart grid technologies and distributed energy systems, risk and resilience assessment of future networks, integrated multi-energy systems modelling and energy infrastructure investment under uncertainty. He has also recently led the “Power system security assessment of the future National Electricity Market” work for the Australian Federal Government’s Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (Finkel Review).

Professor Mancarella is author/editor of four books, several book chapters, and over 250 research publications. He is an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, of the IEEE Systems Journal, and of the International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems, as well as Guest Editor of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

Professor Mancarella is an IEEE Power and Energy Society Distinguished Lecturer, and the past Chair of the Energy Working Group of the IEEE European Public Policy Initiative.