The first Tesla microgrid: Melbourne housing development to feature shared energy system

Just one week after we reported the development of Australia’s first “Tesla Town”, a second green housing development, also in inner Melbourne, and also featuring solar and Tesla Powerwalls as standard fittings, has been revealed.

Artist’s impression of the merri green residential development. Source: supplied

Like Glenvill’s YarraBend, the 49 residence “merri green” development – a project owned by local developer Codstream and sited alongside Merri Creek in Northcote – will include rooftop solar, a total of around 160kW, and Tesla battery storage throughout: 7kWh Powerwalls in each of the 20 townhouses and a larger “Powerpack” of as-yet undetermined size in the 29-residence apartment building.
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But while the merri green project is a much smaller concern than Glenvill’s “mini-suburb”, it will take energy independence to the next level, using energy management software to distribute and manage the stored solar electricity, and thus creating its own inner-city power network. A Tesla micro-grid, if you will.
“Putting batteries in is not enough,” Codstream founder Ramon Collodetti told One Step Off The Grid in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s like using your computer as a paperweight.”
“You can see how the power companies are gouging at the moment, and they’re doing that because the system allows them to.
“(This) gives people another (option).  …It’s not off-grid, but through a network of batteries, it means we can get our energy dependency down.”
Pulling the project together with Codstream will be Bradford Solar – a local PV installer and certified Tesla battery re-seller – and energy management outfit Generation Shared 1p1v.
Collodetti says his company chose to use the Tesla storage technology for a number of reasons, including the Powerwall’s sleek looks, but mostly for the after sales service guaranteed by the US company’s carefully selected Australian sales partners.
As for the energy management system, that, says Collodetti involves a “whole array of complex algorithms” which are being developed by Generation Shared 1p1v, and that will effectively make the body corporate the retailer.
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As the brochure explains it, the shared energy system is intended to distribute the available solar energy between households fairly.
“Each dwelling owns a fixed proportion of solar energy as it is generated plus any stored energy left over from the day before. If one owner consumes more than their share of the energy generated and stored, the system simply switches them to the electricity grid and they will be billed for this extra power at domestic retail rates.”
Collodetti says residents will also have the option to opt out of the micro-grid entirely, and deal directly with the grid.
“It’s still a user pays system,” he says. “If you go away for the week, you make money.
“You won’t need as much energy at a base level,” he added, noting that the development’s dwellings will be 7-star energy rated. “But when you do need energy, that energy will be provided by the battery.”
And at night, the grid-connected battery network can be topped with off-peak power.
As well as solar and battery storage, the houses and apartments will feature energy efficient lighting and appliances, passive cooling design, double glazed windows, and tanks to harvest rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigation. They will also have plug-in charge points for electric vehicles.
And while the cost of building in solar and storage has added about “half a million” to the bottom line of the development, Collodetti – who is also president of the Merri Creek Residents Group – says the long-term benefits make it worthwhile.
As the brochure points out, networking the batteries means far less battery volume is needed compared to using individual storage batteries for each dwelling. Overall it also reduces demand on the existing electricity grid, reducing the need for network “upgrades” to meet population growth and energy consumption.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Collodetti said. “People can be environmentally responsible without compromising on their living standards.
“Ultimately, it’s a cost-saving to everybody across the grid.”
For those interested, the merri green development has its official launch on July 30, but is taking registrations now through its website. Property prices will range from $1.6 million for Merri Creek fronting three bedroom homes, to $1.8 million for 3 bedroom houses fronting a golf course. One, two and three-bedroom apartments will cost from $420,000 to $950,000.
Collodetti says he hopes to commence construction by the end of the year, and have the development completed in the first half of 2018.

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