New South Wales distribution network company Endeavour Energy has announced plans to fast-track its first community microgrid, a $4.8 million renewable energy based power system that will be able to power two coastal communities during grid outages.
The microgrid is still in the very early stages; Endeavour Energy CEO Guy Chlakey said on Friday that the announcement of state government funding for the project would kick off a program of consultation with the NSW south coast communities of Bawley Point and Kioloa and other stakeholders.
But it is one of many being proposed, planned and rolled out by network companies all around Australia, in a bid to offer fringe of grid communities a more reliable, less costly and more sustainable power supply – particularly those exposed to both consistent network instability and extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Research published earlier this month by the University of Technology Sydney found that installing renewable energy-run microgrids as a back-up power source could ensure regional communities weren’t cut of from critical energy, fuel and food supplies when disasters like bushfires and floods strike.
And a project launched last year and led by the Australian National University has been assessing the feasibility of transitioning a number of regional NSW communities from grids exposed to bushfires and other natural disasters to a resilient network of islandable renewables and battery-based microgrids.
Backed by federal government funding, the Southcoast Microgrid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project is being led the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU in partnership with the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA), network company Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben.
The Endeavour Energy micorgrid project is being supported by the NSW government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, while the Shoalhaven City Council has supplied a site for microgrid’s battery that will ultimately replace the diesel generator currently used to support local electricity supply.
“This is an exciting opportunity to partner with residents and businesses in Bawley Point and Kioloa to pioneer innovative customer-focused energy solutions that future proof our communities, now and beyond,” Chalkey said
“Microgrids eliminate the need for large substations so in time these savings, will be passed on to customers. It’s a win for them, the network and the environment as our network creates the kind of sustainable benefits that we all want.”
To register interest in participating in the community consultation visit yoursay.endeavourenergy.com.au.