Australian grid operator turns to solar-powered microgrids

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From pv magazine Australia

Ausgrid has started the delivery of its first PV-powered microgrid, which has been designed to provide off-network power supplies to key business and community services in the town of Merriwa, New South Wales.

The low-voltage connected microgrid, which is being delivered in partnership with Queensland government-owned energy services business Yurika, will include small-scale power generation, a battery energy storage system, a backup diesel generator, and control technologies.

Ausgrid said the microgrid, to be located at its depot in Merriwa about 270 kilometers northwest of Sydney, will be able to operate during planned and unplanned power interruptions, switching on to maintain supply automatically to homes and businesses in the trial area.

Ausgrid’s group executive of customer, assets and digital, Junayd Hollis, said the Merriwa microgrid is the first of its kind on the company’s network and will help inform how Ausgrid can best deliver a more responsive, resilient and reliable power supply.

“This is a key innovation trial to demonstrate how Ausgrid can best support communities to be increasingly resilient in the face of extreme weather and extended outages, no matter where they live on our network,” he said.

Ausgrid, which is the largest electricity distributor on Australia’s east coast with more than 1.7 million customers, said its climate impact research for the Upper Hunter region shows that by 2050 the region will be subject to an increase in all types of climate risks such as heat, storms and bushfire.

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The network operator said a microgrid allows it to provide a more resilient electricity supply to customers and it is confident the technology is now at a stage that it will work reliably and cost effectively.

Hollis said the early work has commenced on the Merriwa project to ensure all 28 properties within the microgrid’s catchment area have the infrastructure required to support the connection.

The microgrid is expected to undergo commissioning in the first half of 2024.

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