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Australia's Grid Operator Embraces Solar-Powered Microgrids

2024-01-25
Ausgrid, an electricity distributor in New South Wales, is investigating the use of solar-powered microgrids. This initiative aims to improve the resilience of energy supply for local communities, particularly during severe weather conditions.

Ausgrid has initiated the implementation of its pioneering solar-powered microgrid project in Merriwa, a town in the Hunter region's far west. This project, a collaborative effort with Yurika, a Queensland government-owned energy firm, is designed to provide an independent power source for essential community and business services during major power disruptions.

 

This innovative microgrid integrates various components such as small-scale power generators, a battery storage system, a backup diesel generator, and advanced control technologies. Strategically situated at Ausgrid's Merriwa depot, approximately 270 kilometers northwest of Sydney, it's engineered to kick in automatically during both planned and unexpected power outages, ensuring continuous electricity supply in the trial zone.

 

Junayd Hollis, Ausgrid’s Group Executive of Customer, Assets, and Digital, highlights that the Merriwa microgrid marks a significant milestone as the first installation of its kind in their network. It's seen as a crucial pilot project to determine how Ausgrid can enhance power delivery, focusing on responsiveness, resilience, and reliability.

 

The project underscores Ausgrid's commitment to supporting communities in facing the challenges of extreme weather and prolonged power outages. With over 1.7 million customers on Australia's east coast, Ausgrid's research indicates a notable increase in climate-related risks such as heatwaves, storms, and bushfires in the Upper Hunter region by 2050.

 

Emphasizing the importance of a resilient electricity supply, Ausgrid is confident in the microgrid technology's reliability and cost-effectiveness. Preparatory work has already started on the Merriwa project, ensuring that the 28 properties within its scope are equipped for connection.

 

The microgrid is slated for commissioning in the first half of 2024, marking a significant step in Ausgrid's journey toward sustainable and resilient power solutions.

 

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