Bushfire Solar photovoltaics Energy storage Australia
Recent catastrophic bushfires in Victoria, Australia have prompted examination of the risk of bushfire ignition from uninsulated powerlines. Policy and community debate has ensued over balancing electricity supply as an essential service with the risk of bushfires initiated by powerlines. The 2009 Black Saturday fires prompted debate and analysis resulting in public investments in undergrounding and insulating powerlines as well as deploying network protection devices that reduce ignition probability. This Study examines the technical and economic feasibility of deploying grid-interactive solar photovoltaic and energy storage systems on rural homes to allow powerlines to be disconnected on days of high fire risk to prevent bushfire ignition. Using studies of conditions during fire risk periods, solar photovoltaic yield models and bushfire ignition mechanisms, it concludes that PV systems coupled with energy storage can provide cost effective bushfire risk reduction benefits. Based on comparison with powerline undergrounding, it concludes that solar photovoltaics and storage could achieve the same risk reduction at 10% of the Net Present Cost. This approach is transferrable to other fire-prone regions such as New South Wales, South Australia and Southern California. The use of Bayesian belief networks is proposed as a decision support system for powerline risk management during high fire danger periods.
A Master's Dissertation, submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the award of the Master Of Science degree of Loughborough University.