NSW community-owned retailer Enova Energy has revealed plans to develop a microgrid in its home town of Byron Bay, as a trial to encourage the roll-out of locally generated, stored and distributed power.
The pilot project, which will be installed at the Byron Arts & Industry Estate, is expected to encompass between 20 and 30 participants and will be carried out over approximately two years.
Participants will be able to measure power inputs and outputs, and the resulting data will be used to help work out a new pricing structure based on sharing locally-generated power.
Enova managing director Tony Pfeiffer said one of the key goals of the project was to work out how much cheaper it was to use locally generated renewable energy, rather importing it “from afar.”
“Community microgrids such as this are the way of the future,” Pfeiffer said. “The Byron Arts & Industry Estate Microgrid is the first of what we hope will be many self-sufficient electricity microgrids Enova helps to roll out.
“Eventually, the microgrid is likely to enjoy its own unique tariff structure, where new prices are set to be more attractive than current energy pricing,” he added.
“We aim to develop a model that can be replicated by communities across NSW and ultimately Australia – starting with industrial estates and similar commercial areas, and eventually residential areas.”
The microgrid plans follow Enova’s launch of a new round of crowd-sourced fundraising to finance the community retailer’s expansion across NSW regions, including the Sydney CBD, followed by south-east Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
As we reported here last week, the new fund-raising effort comes three years after the Enova first made the call for early stage investment – at $1,000 a share – and successfully formed Australia’s first community-owned energy retailer.
Since then, more than 4,900 customers have signed up, and in March Enova was ranked fourth in the Green Electricity Guide’s list of the nation’s most environment and consumer friendly energy retailers.
This week’s announcement of the microgrid project was attended by NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, where she announced $85 million worth of state government funding for regional energy projects.
A further $55 million was also pledged to help the private sector develop and accelerate clean energy technology for regional communities, including pumped hydro.
“Tackling high energy costs is a top priority for our government and this significant investment puts further downward pressure on energy bills for homes in regional NSW,” she said.