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Sharing Solar with Neighbours Keeps the Lights on

7 March 2018

Mooroolbark mini grid’s latest trial proves sharing stored renewable energy through the network alleviates power outages for communities

Power reliability is looking brighter after AusNet Services’ mini grid trial in Mooroolbark passed a new milestone last week, which demonstrated that batteries and solar shared on the network can be orchestrated to power nearby homes during power outages.

In the latest milestone in its ground-breaking mini grid trial, AusNet Services successfully separated a small, residential community in Melbourne’s outer east from the main power grid for almost 22 hours; whilst enabling a steady and secure power supply to customers by sharing renewable energy. 

Only 14 of the 18 homes which separated from the main grid have solar panels and batteries which are shared with the network. 

While separated from the main grid, our innovative Distributed Energy Network Optimisation Platform (DENOP) was used to control the batteries and share the stored renewable energy among all 18 homes – even those without solar – before successfully switching all homes back to the main power grid. 

AusNet Services Executive General Manager, Regulated Energy Services, Alistair Parker believes this process could be adapted to dramatically reduce the impact of power outages, especially in remote and rural areas. 

“The evolution of energy will enable communities to share stored solar with their neighbours when the power goes out. The technology developed through our innovative trial will help customers either share or sell their stored energy over the network to keep the lights on and costs down for everyone,” said Mr Parker.

“We’re finding ways to improve reliability by working with our customers. The impact of extended power outages could become a thing of the past when we all work together. AusNet Services envisages a future where we help customers realise the value of their energy assets, for their own benefit and that of the wider community” said Mr Parker.

About the mini grid

The Mooroolbark mini grid is made up of individual households that have the capability to generate, store and manage power, and can be separated from the electricity network for periods.

During this trial event, AusNet Services used a combination of our central DENOP platform, the GreenSync MicroEM mini grid control platform, and an advanced inverter and battery device known as a stabiliser provided by Power Technology Engineered Solutions, to separate the mini grid from the main grid and to operate it in a stable and secure fashion.  

The DENOP used field data provided through the software interface with the GreenSync EM platform to orchestrate the homes by issuing commands to the local batteries.  The result was that this advanced community shared energy for 22 hours before having to go back to the grid.  

The stabiliser, which has a very small battery, is a smart battery storage system that smooths out short term variations in energy supply and consumption across the mini grid by either delivering or absorbing power.

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