The important role of communications infrastructure in renewable energy


The growth of renewable energy is on the rise, accordingly in line with a growing demand from end consumers to access power and electricity from a “greener” source.

Research has shown that by 2050, it is expected that 62% of generated energy will be covered by renewables. This is in comparison to a 2019 figure that shows the amount of green energy generated represented 27% of the worldwide production. 

For some time, renewable energy industry participants have faced significant risks in connecting their projects to the grid – a barrier to achieving that expected 62% figure mentioned above. 

Recently, MinterEllison released a new reform roadmap that proposed to help ease these challenges.  

The Connections Reform Initiative

In 2021, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Clean Energy Council (CEC) established the Connections Reform Initiative (CRI). 

This is a collaborative process involving personnel from over 40 industry organisations volunteering their time to identify solutions to overcome systemic issues that exist in the grid connection process.

The result? 

A Connections Reform Roadmap that captures the output of the work undertaken during the collaborative process, and provides direction and a program for the implementation of the chosen reforms.

You can view the Roadmap here.

Pathfinder’s work within renewable energy 

At Pathfinder Technology, we have recognised the demand for smarter ways of accessing and processing data and the reliance on communication and control systems as the growth in renewable energy continues. 

With a proven track record in delivering Utility and Government projects, specialising in providing communications and connectivity between the generator and the utility, we are uniquely placed to deliver projects in this space.

Hence why we welcome the Roadmap’s recommendation which ultimately hoped for “collaborative working model” as well as a number of the more technical reforms (such as information sharing and investment certainty) will lead to a shift in the way future energy projects are delivered.

Communications infrastructure for successful renewable energy

One of the priorities for any renewable energy generator is the need to advance the project towards successfully making the connection to the grid.

The communications infrastructure is a critical part of this portion of the project, as can be “seen” through our work at Merredin Solar Farm for Western Power in 2019. 

Risen Energy needed to construct a 360,000 panel solar energy farm near Merredin, Western Australia, which is now connected to the nearby Western Power Merredin Terminal at 220kV. 

Pathfinder was contracted by Western Power to:

  • assemble and install communications infrastructure elements and devices, including fit out of communications racks for the new sites. 
  • install new civil communications infrastructure such as new pits and conduits.
  • supply and install optical fibre.
  • splice and terminate OPGW cables at several sites. 

Through our communications infrastructure support, today Merredin Solar Farm has an approximate output of 281GWh of electricity annually, generating enough energy to power approximately 42,000 Western Australian homes.

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