The energy monitoring technology of leading Victorian Internet of Things company, GreenSync, will be used in a ground-breaking solar and battery storage mini-grid trial being conducted in Melbourne’s outer east by network operator AusNet Services.
The first-of-its-kind Mooroolbark trial, which we reported on here in 2016, is notable for its goal of taking part of a Melbourne suburb completely off grid, powered only with rooftop solar and battery storage, the balance of which will be managed by GreenSync’s technology.
AusNet aims to test how the mini-grid community operates independently of the main grid, using power sharing to balance energy generation and consumption in a stable, secure way.
The trial will also explore how each house operates in grid-connected mode – using solar and batteries, as well as supporting the network by reducing peak demand, smoothing power flows and improving power quality; and how each house operates in off-grid mode.
Along with the newly established customer portals, each home included in the trial has solar panels, 10kWh of battery storage, advanced power management, 3G communications, and safety systems installed.
The battery storage system comprises the Australian-made 5kW Selectronic SP PRO inverter and an LG Chem 10kWh RESU battery. Selectronic’s inverters – which happen to be manufactured in the suburb next door to Mooroolbark – was selected for the trial for its ability to cope with the changes in priorities of energy production, consumption and storage that the trial will be testing.
GreenSync’s energy monitoring system will provide participating households with real time visibility of how their home is being powered – whether via solar, battery storage, the grid or a mix – and provide measures of the level of electricity stored in a battery or being exported to the grid. It also depicts instant power flows in an animated visual that is updated every minute.
For AusNet, the new trial follows last year’s completion of a three-year battery storage trial, that tested a range of ways to use residential batteries, including exporting electricity into the grid at peak demand times, that might delay or offset costly network investment.
That trial – the first of its kind to be completed by an Australian network operator – found that a typical residential customer with solar panels could save $1,500 over five years by adding a battery storage system, and $3,500 over the lifetime of the system. Those benefits could increase by one third if customers took up flexible pricing tariffs.
The benefit for a network, meanwhile, was found to have the potential to be double that amount, at $3,000 over five years. That mostly comes from avoided network spending, but this value could increase by 10 per cent if load levelling was also included.
“AusNet Services is focused on empowering communities and their energy future, and this (Mooroolbark) trial is an important part of this work,”AusNet’s distributed energy and innovation manager Justin Harding said on Tuesday.
“The portal will provide customers insights into when their homes are generating, storing and using power, and will allow them to better manage their electricity use and potentially lower their bills.
“Each of the mini-grid scenarios will give AusNet Services a better understanding of how to adapt to a future in which we support our customers’ diverse energy choices, while operating our network as efficiently as possible,” Harding said.
The Mooroolbark mini-grid is expected to be fully operational by the middle of this year.