As the energy industry continues to shift, traditional energy networks are looking towards innovative solutions and technology to help shape our energy future and their existing business models.

Networks looking to innovate

AusNet Services, Victoria’s largest energy delivery service business, is establishing itself as a network of the future, with the purpose of empowering communities and their energy choices.

This objective was at the core of the partnership between AusNet Services and GreenSync to deliver a world-leading project in microgrids for residential communities.

In view of the high uptake of rooftop solar and battery storage, AusNet Services was looking to pioneer innovative solutions that deliver benefits for customers through deeper integration and optimisation of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid.

“The project sets us up to configure our network and capabilities for the benefit of all our customers in the face of a rapidly changing energy landscape.”

Justin Harding, Distributed Energy and Innovation Manager, AusNet Services

Establishing the ‘Community Mini Grid’

Following extensive community consultation, a ‘community mini-grid’ has been established in a street in Mooroolbark, Victoria, as a live model of the future network.

As part of the trial, seventeen homes were successfully separated from Victoria’s main electricity grid and, using a combination of solar panels and battery storage, were operated together as a stand-alone mini-grid.

The homes, including three that had neither solar or batteries, were able to maintain power by sharing the electricity generated by the mini-grid.

 

A suburb running solely on renewable energy

The aim of the mini-grid was to explore a wide range of technical, commercial and social outcomes, supporting both grid-connected and stand-alone mini grid scenarios, as well as a home-off-grid solution.

GreenSync designed the smart solar- storage home systems in collaboration with Ecopower, and AusNet Services remotely operates the mini-grid, trialling tariff arbitrage and network support scenarios, through its cloud-based monitoring and control platform.

While mini-grids are being trialled across the world, what sets this project apart is that it’s in an established suburb, being run entirely by renewable energy. GreenSync was able to deliver a high level of control capability, by integrating the solar and battery inverters into its cloud-based control platform.

Project Outcomes

In 2017, GreenSync and AusNet Services were awarded the Clean Energy Council Innovation Award for their work on the mini-grid project.

To date, the project to date has delivered a number of successful outcomes and critical learnings including:

 

  • Remote monitoring and control of multiple assets, including solar and battery assets
  • Taking a community off grid for three hours with local sharing of power

  • Residents power bills have been approximately halved during summer months

  • A high proportion of solar power has been successfully managed

  • One minute live data and control