The Active Energy Precincts Project

Yarra Ranges Council has partnered with Monash University and Birdwood Energy to conduct a feasibility study on powering two communities using microgrids or an Active Energy Precinct.

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 as a result 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.

 

FAQ's

Which communities are involved?

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.

How is this project funded?

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.

How will the project work?

Each microgrid will aim to virtually connect a few businesses/community facilities and approximately 20 homes into a microgrid that includes local renewable generation and energy storage.

How do I find out more?

Please email sustainability@yarraranges.vic.gov.au for more information and/or to express interest in participating in the study.