The successful establishment of a 100 per cent renewable mini-grid has provided a valuable glimpse of how energy security and reliability may be boosted in the future.
In the latest milestone in its mini grid trial, AusNet Services demonstrated that a small, residential energy community in Melbourne’s outer east could be successfully separated from and re-integrated with the main power grid.
As part of AusNet Services’ Mooroolbark Mini Grid trial, eight homes were successfully separated from Victoria’s main electricity grid and, using a combination of solar panels and battery storage, were operated together as a stand-alone mini grid.
The homes, including two that had neither solar or batteries, were able to maintain power by sharing electricity via AusNet Services’ powerlines that connect the mini grid.
AusNet Services executive general manager regulated energy services Alistair Parker spoke at Energy Network Australia’s Welcome to the Grid Edge conference yesterday.
He said the recent mini-grid separation from the main grid was a major milestone and would contribute to AusNet Services’ understanding of the challenges and opportunities mini grids presented.
“This trial is about finding ways to empower communities and their energy future, and this latest milestone is helping us look at how we can improve energy security in the future,” Mr Parker said.
“In the future, we may be able to use this technology to keep homes powered during major storm events.
“We could also use this technology to smooth peak demand on our network, helping to reduce the need to build expensive power stations and therefore reducing costs to customers.
“The electricity network will continue to play an important role in our energy future, but we need to make sure it is able to support technology such as solar panels and battery storage for the benefit of all customers.”
Mr Parker said the trial demonstrated that it was possible to separate a community from the main electricity grid without any interruption to power supply.
“As customers choose to move away from more traditional forms of energy generation, we want to better understand how we can integrate new technology into the existing electricity network so we can improve reliability and security,” he said.
The trial’s next stages include development of additional control functionality to manage peak loads and generation on the network, as well as further testing of the standalone supply scenario involving additional customers being integrated into the stand-alone mini grid.