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The Mooroolbark Mini Grid Project: exploring our energy future

Australia is in the midst of an energy revolution. The growth in solar power, energy storage and smart control technology has the potential to change the way our society produces, uses and sells energy. To help us prepare for this future, AusNet Services is trialling Australia’s first mini grid in an established community.

What is a mini grid?

A mini grid is a local energy system made up of individual customers that have the capability to generate, store and export power.
A control system enables these customers to operate as a unified energy community. Most mini grids remain connected in some
way to the larger network.

What will the trial investigate?

AusNet Services will run three main scenarios that will explore different aspects of the mini grid and how it interacts with the main
grid while accounting for customer and network needs. These scenarios are:

#1: Grid Interactive. Each house operates in grid connected mode, using solar power, batteries and the grid to create efficient
power storage and consumption, as well as supporting the network by reducing peak demand, smoothing power flows and
improving power quality.

#2: Customer Secure Power. Each house operates in off-grid mode, using the individual solar power, batteries and demand/consumption management approaches to optimise energy use.

#3: Community Island. The mini grid community operates independently of the main grid, using power sharing to balance energy generation and consumption in a stable, secure way.

mini grid

 Resources

  • Project overview

    Under this section you can find general information about the mini grid project.

  • Case Studies

    For case studies and trial findings, please contact Justin Harding.

     

  • Glossary

    Below is some commonly used terminology when we talk about the mini grid project

     

    Mini grid

    A mini grid is a local energy system made up of individual customers that have the capability to generate, store and export power. A control system enables these customers to operate as a unified energy community. Most mini grids remain connected in some way to the larger network though a single point of connection to the main grid. In the public arena, the term “mini grid” is not yet used in a consistent manner. A mini grid is sometimes referred to as a microgrid.

    Demand / Load

    The amount of power required by a customer at any point in time is referred to as the customer “demand”. This is actually the same as the amount of power actually consumed by the customer at any point in time, which is often referred to as customer “load”.

    Export limit

    The ability to set an upper limit for solar (or battery) power exported to the grid is referred to as “export limit”. This is a setting in the inverter, which can be controlled in this trial.

    Solar spill

    Solar generated which is not used or stored by the customer, but exported to the grid, is referred to as solar energy being “spilled” to the grid.

    Power quality

    Electric power quality, or simply power quality, involves voltage, frequency, and waveform. Good power quality can be defined as a steady supply voltage that stays within the prescribed range, steady a.c. frequency close to the rated value, and smooth voltage curve waveform (resembles a sine wave). Good power quality enables electrical equipment to consume the energy being supplied to it. A number of power quality issues including electrical harmonics, poor power factor, voltage instability and imbalance impact on the efficiency of electrical equipment.

Why is this trial important?

The electricity grid is shifting from being a one-way pipeline that carries energy from large power stations to the customer, to a multi-directional web that supports a wide range of renewable and distributed energy sources. Customers are already becoming active participants in the power grid.

This situation brings considerable challenges to network operators, but could also provide major community benefits.

Each of the mini grid scenarios will give us a better understanding of how to adapt to a future in which we support our customers’ diverse energy choices, while operating our network as efficiently as possible.


Mini grid community benefits

Hover over the icons below to discover the value of a community mini grid.



Trial Partners

Partnering with GreenSync and Power Technology Engineered Solutions is key to the success of our project.

GreenSync built, operated and maintain the smart solar-storage home systems in collaboration with their subcontractor Ecopower. GreenSync implemented and operate a cloud-based monitoring and control platform.

Power Technology Engineered Solutions developed, installed and maintain the stabiliser.