Distributed generation on rural electricity networks - a lines company perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering in Energy Management at Massey University
A number of electricity assets used in rural New Zealand yield a very low return on investment. According to the provisions of the Electricity Act 1992, after 01 April 2013, lines companies may terminate supply to any customer to whom they cannot provide electricity lines services profitably. This research was undertaken to assist the policy makers, lines companies, rural investors on the viability of distributed generation in a rural setting from the point of view of the lines company and the investor as well as to provide recommendations to the problem areas. A dynamic distributed generation model was developed to simulate critical distributed generation scenarios relevant to New Zealand, such as diverse metering arrangements, time dependent electricity prices, peak shaving by load control, peak lopping by dispatchable distributed generation and state subsides, which are not addressed in commercial software. Data required to run the model was collected from a small rural North Island sheep and beef farming community situated at the end of a 26km long radial distribution feeder. Additional operational data were also collected from the community on distributed resources such as solar hot water systems. A number of optimum distributed generation combinations involving a range of technologies under different metering arrangements and price signals were identified for the small and the medium investor. The effect of influencing factors, such as state initiatives and technological growth, on the investor and the lines companies were discussed. Recommendations for future implementation in order to integrate distributed generation on to rural networks were also given. Several key research areas were identified and discussed including low cost micro hydro, wind resource assessment, diversification of the use of the induction generators, voltage flicker and dynamic distributed generation techno-economic forecasting tools.