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Microgrids. Part of our energy future

October 9, 2017 1:21 pm Category: Latest News, Partner Content A+ / A-

The opening of AusNet’s Mooroolbark Community Mini Grid project in Melbourne

 Justin Harding is the Distributed Energy & Innovation Manager at AusNet Services. In advance of his presentation at All-Energy Australia 2017, Justin participated in an email Q & A with Energy Business News

Where do microgrids fit into our energy future? Which kind of communities or environments do they suit?

  • The term ‘microgrid’ covers a range of local energy supply solutions that will have different applications in our energy future.
  • Most microgrids will form part of the wider electricity network, and will help create a more dynamic, interactive and flexible future network.
  • Rural communities may benefit from the backup power provision and energy security that microgrids can deliver.
  • Communities with ambitions to achieve renewable energy goals or carbon neutrality may find that microgrids offer a way to meet those aims.
  • Campuses, precincts and large customer facilities may create a microgrid to reduce their energy costs and as well as increase energy security.

Which technologies are best for microgrids? Is a hybrid mix best and if so why?

  • There are no ‘best’ technologies for microgrids, and most examples exhibit a mix of technologies.
  • The generation within a microgrid can be supplied from almost any source: solar, wind, hydro, biomass, gas, diesel etc, and may include battery storage.
  • Solar PV tends to be one of the lowest cost small-scale sources of energy on a long-run basis, and commonly features in microgrid designs.
  • The other important part of a microgrid is the control aspect. This may be a mix of local microprocessor control, centralised control over 3G or internet, or advanced SCADA type systems.

Can you briefly mention two or three of AusNet Services’ best microgrid projects?

  • We have initiated microgrid trials including the 1MWh Grid Energy Storage System and the Mooroolbark Community Mini Grid innovation project.
  • We are aware of many other customer-driven microgrid projects that are being planned.

Is storage technology a game changer, and does it make microgrids even more relevant?

  • Cost effective energy storage is one the biggest energy sector game-changers of recent times, and will continue to be so for some years to come.
  • Many microgrids rely on energy storage, either distributed or centralised as a critical part of the energy solution.
  • Storage is often used as a balancing device, to provide flexibility and as a way to increase operational efficiency of the microgrid as a whole.

AusNet Services, Distributed Energy & Innovation Manager, Justin Harding will be discussing microgrid and off grid project insights at All-Energy Australia 2017 on 11 October at 3:30pm in room 218 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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