Energy tech firm GreenSync has launched a new digital framework to control distributed energy resources for local grids, and is offering it free to universities and non-government organisations as a basis for research projects.

GreenSync founder and managing director Dr Phil Blythe said the cloud-based software and control system, HIGHV, could assist in managing the destabilising effect that high levels of renewable generation can have on the main grid.

It can also be used by energy users to develop customised energy control and optimisation strategies that can be then plugged into the framework and interfaced with the main grid supply.

It is already being used by some of the firm’s clients in the energy transmission, distribution and retail sectors in both Australia and Singapore, he said.

As a “pluggable” technology, the platform enables users to build their own control systems and strategies on top.

It also makes the grid “pluggable” in terms of connecting a diversity of distributed renewable and microgrid systems without compromising main grid stability.

“The centralised approach to electricity management of the last 50 years is no longer adequate in many parts of Australia,” Dr Blythe said.

“Our grid must now support a range of new innovations and localised approaches to managing Australia’s electricity needs. The only way to make this new grid simple, localised and capable of supporting rapid change is to make it pluggable.”

Dr Blythe said the problems the energy sector and energy users were tackling were becoming more complex due to the rapid rise in solar power generation, renewable energy storage and the evolution of local grids.

“It’s getting to the point where we are hitting the constraints [of the grid],” he said.

“Smart strategies and control are the answer.”

Australia’s geography also adds to the problems, with a wide range of climate zones, sparse and expensive infrastructure, and many small and remote communities including islands and outback communities.

“What we want is reusable infrastructure and capabilities that can leverage the same technology platform,” Dr Blythe said. “That’s how we can tackle this growing complexity.”

He said some of the firm’s energy sector clients were using the platform to resolve problems occurring within the grid due to the rise of inputs from renewable energy, making it unstable and hard to manage.

In the future Dr Blythe hopes there will also be uses including householders being able to access home energy optimisation strategies that can be plugged into their own energy system.

The framework addressed the question of how grid supply could get to 80 per cent renewables, he said. Already, with rooftop solar in some places adding more than 30 per cent to supplies, the grid is struggling.

There is a growing appetite for renewable solutions, Dr Blythe said. For example, in the past 12 months the number of projects the firm is engaged in involving battery storage has gone from nil to 50 per cent.

The battery was “almost a perfect storm” as a driving force to transition the energy network, he said.

“It is similar with microgrids. Half of the utilities we’re working with are looking at getting into the microgrid space. That’s what’s really moved in the past six months,” he said.

Dr Blythe said the company’s growth had escalated too, with an office established in Singapore as well as an Australian office. The next step is expansion into Europe and the US.