Grid-connected microgrids

For around 20 – 1000+ customers

A Grid-connected microgrid is a self-contained mesh network that facilitates real-time energy generation and consumption among various energy nodes within a defined geographical boundary. An energy node can be anything that generates or consumes energy inside the microgrid’s boundary, including:

  • sources of energy - e.g. houses with rooftop solar or a small solar farm
  • storage devices - e.g. a large or grid-scale battery
  • various other loads - e.g. streetlights, electric vehicle charging stations etc.

These nodes are interconnected using the distribution network’s poles and wires.

Grid-connected microgrids operate in two modes:

  1. Grid-connected mode – the entire microgrid is connected to the wider distribution network. This allows communities to export or trade excess energy stored within the microgrid.
  2. Islanded mode – the entire microgrid is disconnected from the wider distribution network. It operates autonomously for the main purpose of providing additional resilience to the community during severe weather events, above and beyond what the traditional network can provide.

The technology that enables a microgrid to operate dynamically and autonomously in real-time, is called an orchestration platform. The orchestration platform has intelligent software and hardware that allows the dynamic management of power for each energy node connected to the microgrid. For each energy node, it can:

  1. reduce loads - e.g. turning off pool pumps or air conditioners
  2. manage controllable loads - e.g. turning an Electric Vehicle (EV) charger on or off, or charge a residential battery
  3. toggle generation – for energy nodes within the microgrid that have generation capability, such as houses with rooftop solar, the orchestration platform can dynamically vary the level of total generation to match the level of total load within the microgrid. This also includes charging large-scale batteries. This balances the power and quality within the microgrid, making it stable, reliable and safe.

Technology suite:

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) system.
  • Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
  • Diesel generator - or alternative carbon free solution as a backup generation source.
  • Orchestration platform.
  • Protection and control equipment.
  • Traditional distribution network’s infrastructure (i.e. the poles and wires).

Key considerations for deployment:

  • Network requirements – your community may have additional regulatory protection requirements in place that must be followed to keep your community safe, such as REFCL sites that minimise bushfire risks. For more information, see Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter Program.
  • Designing the microgrid’s orchestration logic and capability to facilitate all anticipated loads and generation sources within the community.
  • Community support and acceptance of new or alternative technologies.
  • Does the solution’s cost and complexity align to your community’s primary objective?
  • Land lease agreements and system location (as applicable).

Community benefits

  • Increased resilience during prolonged power outages, including in severe weather events.
  • Increased reliability of power supply.
  • Pride of deploying a community energy solution.
  • Increased safety - e.g. lower bushfires risks.
  • Lower carbon emissions with some electricity supply provided by local renewable energy sources.
  • Potential to export excess energy and generate revenue.
  • Reduced dependency on the wider distribution network.