Microgrid Projects

Yarra Ranges Council is currently participating in several feasibility studies that assess how to power select communities using microgrids.  

What is a microgrid?

An interconnected network for electricity delivery from producers to consumers over a wide area is known as an energy grid. A microgrid is a scaled down version of an energy grid; it operates on a local scale to connect businesses and homes to nearby energy resources such as solar panels and battery storage.

diagram of a microgrid

Why use microgrids?

Power from mains networks can be disrupted for many reasons including power shortages or cuts, scheduled maintenance, or damage to the infrastructure because of storms or fires. This leaves community members without power, sometimes for extensive periods.

Microgrids can be powered by generators, batteries and/or renewable resources such as solar panels, enabling them to disconnect from the wider energy grid and continue powering homes and businesses.

If a microgrid is fuelled by renewable energy it can enhance energy resilience during emergency events and can potentially reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels.

A microgrid:

  • coordinates local energy resources – including renewable energy sources – to provide secure and reliable electricity locally
  • can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously
  • can improve community resilience by providing backup at times of emergencies
  • can be used to reduce costs or provide services back to the main grid
  • can help communities reach net-zero emissions.

Project Details

The Active Energy Precincts Project – Healesville & Yarra Junction

Monash University was awarded $1.934 million for the ‘Active Energy Precincts: Building Stronger Regional Communities Project’ under the second round of the Regional and Remote Microgrid Reliability Fund. Monash University will use its microgrid, smart energy, storage, and commercial expertise to help two communities in each of the Yarra Ranges, Surf Coast, and Wodonga local government areas.

For the Yarra Ranges, Healesville and Yarra Junction have been selected as communities for this feasibility study.  The locations include Council-owned facilities that can be activated as emergency relief and recovery centres and are close to other essential services such as banks, shops etc.

The project will run from late 2021 to March 2023, with community workshops planned for late 2022/early 2023 to encourage community input into the microgrid modelling. A final public facing report will be produced summarising the key learnings and identify next steps. 

Relevant Resources

The Resilient Energy Precinct – Monbulk

Yarra Ranges Council was successfully awarded $10 Million for a $13.4M Program through the Federal Government’s Preparing Australian Communities Fund. A portion of this funding has been allocated to the Resilient Energy Precinct microgrid feasibility study in Monbulk.

This project aims to physically connect two buildings and virtually test connecting a range of other community properties into a microgrid including local renewable generation and energy storage.

The project will run from July 2022 to January 2024. Community members will be engaged throughout the study duration to ensure the microgrid model accurately reflects community priorities. A final public facing report will be produced summarising the key learnings and identify next steps. 

State Government Energy Resilience Design Studies

In response to the major storm events and prolonged outages in 2021, the Department of Energy, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is funding Energy Resilience Studies in affected towns across Victoria, including several in the Yarra Ranges. Read more about Energy Resilience Design Studies 

These projects are focussed on assessing the feasibility of establishing microgrids, and depending on the results, further investments may result in one or more microgrids being implemented.

 

How do I find out more?

Please email sustainability@yarraranges.vic.gov.au for more information and/or to join our mailing list for project updates.