Solar power successfully shared in mini grid trial

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018


Power reliability is looking more promising after AusNet Services’ mini grid trial in Mooroolbark, Victoria, recently passed a new milestone, demonstrating that batteries and solar shared on the network can be orchestrated to power nearby homes during power outages.

The milestone saw AusNet Services successfully separate the small, residential community from the main power grid for almost 22 hours, while enabling a steady and secure power supply to customers by sharing renewable energy.

The Mooroolbark mini grid is made up of individual households that have the capability to generate, store and manage power, and can be separated from the electricity network for periods. Only 14 of the 18 homes have solar panels and batteries, which are shared with the network.

During the trial event, AusNet Services used a combination of its central Distributed Energy Network Optimisation Platform (DENOP), the GreenSync MicroEM mini grid control platform and an advanced inverter and battery device known as a stabiliser, provided by Power Technology Engineered Solutions, to separate the mini grid from the main grid and to operate it in a stable and secure fashion.

The DENOP used field data provided through the software interface with the GreenSync platform to issue commands to the local batteries, thus sharing the stored renewable energy among all 18 homes — even those without solar — before switching the homes back to the main power grid 22 hours later. The stabiliser, which has a very small battery, meanwhile smoothed out short-term variations in energy supply and consumption across the mini grid by either delivering or absorbing power.

AusNet Services Executive General Manager, Regulated Energy Services Alistair Parker believes this process could be adapted to reduce the impact of power outages — especially in remote and rural areas.

“The evolution of energy will enable communities to share stored solar with their neighbours when the power goes out,” said Parker. “The technology developed through our innovative trial will help customers either share or sell their stored energy over the network to keep the lights on and costs down for everyone.

“The impact of extended power outages could become a thing of the past when we all work together. AusNet Services envisages a future where we help customers realise the value of their energy assets, for their own benefit and that of the wider community.”

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