Microgrid Projects

Yarra Ranges Council has participated 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 were 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 ran from late 2021 to March 2023, with a research report produced summarising the key learnings and identifying 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 the Monbulk Sporting Pavilion and Monbulk Living and Learning Centre together to share power, and virtually test connecting a range of other community properties into a microgrid that includes local renewable generation and energy storage.

Yarra Ranges partnered with Monash University, Birdwood Energy, and n0de, to conduct the feasibility study. The feasibility outcomes were published in May 2024, outlining the opportunities and barriers for the implementation of a Local Energy System (microgrid) in Monbulk.

Relevant resources


What is a local energy system?

Monbulk Resilient Energy Methodology

(Caption: Graphic Illustrations summarising what a ‘Local Energy System’ is, and the outcomes for Monbulk.)






 

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.