Microgrid/Off grid: Project insights looking at the benefits of on reliability

Microgrid/Off grid: Project insights looking at the benefits of on reliability

11 Oct 2017, 3:30 PM - 4:50 PM

Room 218, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
English (Australia)

Chairperson:  Dr Adrian Panow, Director, Deakin Energy


Integration of residential mini grid of the future to the distribution network: Australia’s first residential, 100% inverter based, community mini grid with distributed remote control

Justin Harding, Distributed Energy & Innovation Manager, AusNet Services

In view of the high uptake of rooftop solar in Australia, AusNet Services is pioneering innovative solutions that deliver benefits for customers through deeper integration and optimisation of their distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid. AusNet Services established a Community Mini Grid in a street in Mooroolbark as a live model of the future network.  The aim was to explore a wide range of technical, commercial and social facets in collaboration with local energy services suppliers.  

The mini grid comprises a residential network section of 17 homes, where 14 (82%) of the homes have been equipped with solar and smart batteries systems. The trial supports grid-connected and stand-alone mini grid scenarios through a low voltage grid switch combined with an innovative, intelligent and economic battery based stabiliser device.  The homes also have the ability to operate off-grid.

This paper presents the project as a case study of the creation of a live, innovative mini grid on our network, and will share the key project learnings from the design, build and operational phase, as well as the innovations and key trial outcomes.  It will also highlight further functional improvements and trials envisaged.

Innovations include:

•intensive engagement with and education of customers;

•household access to real time energy flow data;

•an in-depth protection study proving the viability of safe operation of an “all-inverter” grid section;

•operation of the mini grid as a 3-phase island, with 100% renewable energy resources and a distributed architecture, compared to traditional mini grids that rely on synchronous supply from devices such as diesel generators;

•using an economic stabiliser with a very small power rating to drive a stand-alone network with a much larger sum rating of residential solar and battery systems.

Key outcomes demonstrate the value of individual customer installations, as well as the potential aggregated value of a customer asset or community owned asset fleet to 

•enable customer choice and neighbourhood energy sharing,

•reduce electricity cost directly on customer bills,

•emissions reductions,

•improve security and reliability of supply, 

•optimise network efficiency through strategies such as demand response, peak demand management, voltage management.  


Results from the King Island Low Load Diesel Pilot: A MW Scale Case Study 

Dr James Hamilton, Director of Renewable Ready and Research Associate at the Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems (CREPS), University of Tasmania

King Island represents one of the world’s most advanced off-grid power systems, host to an impressive array of renewable and enabling technologies. With a demonstrated track record reaching back 20 years to Australia’s first wind farm, the island is ideally positioned and resourced to support emerging technologies and applications. Most recently the island was selected to host an innovative low load diesel pilot. While diesel technologies have historically been inflexible to renewable integration, low load applications allow diesel generation to operate across their full capacity range, in support of optimised renewable utilization. The results from King Island identify a novel pathway to improved renewable energy penetration, without the cost or complexity of large scale energy storage. Applicable to existing diesel assets, low load operation is accessible to the majority of remote and isolated power systems. In this presentation, King Island low load diesel pilot performance is used to identify some of the opportunities and challenges to wider adoption of the practice. 


Magnifying the opportunity through diversification of energy through microgrids 

Dr Michael Ottaviano, CEO and Managing Director, Carnegie Clean Energy

The pace of innovation in the energy sector is unprecedented – and diversification of energy source and supply is key to building energy resilience during this time of disruption. Carnegie Clean Energy (ASX:CCE) is currently the only company in the world to offer a combination of wave, solar, wind, storage, diesel and desalination via microgrids. Carnegie has a unique business model supporting the full value chain of design, development, finance, construction, operation and maintenance, which is key to staying at the forefront of this changing market. We will provide an in-depth discussion on some of our key power projects and how this is providing unprecedented energy reliability.


Rethinking Renewable Energy Remote Area Power Systems

Jonathan  Kennedy, Engineer, ITP Renewables

Many remote communities and households depend on Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) systems which rely heavily on diesel generators for electricity. Diesel generators have cheap upfront cost but have numerous drawbacks including noise, maintenance and unreliable fuel prices.

Renewable Energy (RE) RAPS systems can overcome many of these issues. The greatest limitation to the implementation of RERAPS systems is the capital expense of procurement and installation. PV and battery system component prices have fallen rendering them more competitive with diesel generator systems on a Levelised Cost Of Energy (LCOE) basis. The most expensive aspect of installing these systems in remote areas is the labour component where specialised qualifications are required for extended periods.

Given this, ITP has identified an innovative and robust containerised design that can reduce this cost. This involves the design, fabrication and delivery of a scalable, cost effective and reliable solar, battery and generator hybrid system for households or small communities that provides an appropriate power supply with a simplified installation procedure. The first of these systems has been installed in the aboriginal lands in South Australia.


  • Adrian Panow



    Deakin Energy

    As a senior executive and advisor in the resources, agriculture, manufacturing and renewable energy fields across government, private and research...

  • Justin Harding


    Distributed Energy & Innovation Manager

    AusNet Services

    Justin Harding manages the Distributed Energy and Innovation team within energy networks business AusNet Services. In this role, Justin oversees the...

  • Dr James Hamilton


    Director of Renewable Ready and Research Associate at the Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems (CREPS)

    University of Tasmania

    James has held a number of executive level and managerial roles with the renewable and off-grid sectors. He is currently both a director of Renewable...

  • Dr Michael Ottaviano


    CEO and Managing Director

    Carnegie Clean Energy

    Dr Ottaviano has been with Carnegie since 2006 and during his time as CEO, Dr Ottaviano has led the Company’s development of its CETO Wave Energy...

  • Jonathan Kennedy


    ITP Renewables

    Jonathan Kennedy has a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from the Australian National University. Since starting with ITP in 2013, Jonathan has...

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