From 1 January 2023, this department will be known as the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) following machinery of government changes. Functions that support the Minister for Planning will be moving to the Department of Transport and Planning.
Investing in resilient energy infrastructure to provide reliable power supply in all conditions.
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What is a microgrid?
The Victorian Government is supporting and developing microgrids. A microgrid can be thought of as a small ‘subset’ of the electricity grid that provides energy generation and storage at a local level. They can incorporate renewable energy generation (for example, from solar panels or wind turbines) as well as battery energy storage.
Some microgrids can operate independently of the grid during power outages (also referred to as ‘islanding’), which can be particularly helpful for communities in regional and rural settings.
Community Microgrid and Sustainable Energy Program
After the extreme 2019–20 fire season, a feasibility study was undertaken. The study aimed to assess the potential of installing new resilient energy infrastructure options. These would support communities and households with power during high-impact and extreme weather events.
The Community Microgrid and Sustainable Energy Program were announced in May 2021. It will support the installation of a mix of solar, batteries and other distributed energy resources for a range of buildings. These include essential service buildings, commercial and industrial buildings and households. The program will provide a reliable power supply and build energy-resilient rural communities.
The locations identified through the feasibility study and receiving support include:
In response to the June and October 2021 major storm events and prolonged power outages, DEECA funded Energy Resilience Design Studies in affected towns across Victoria.
As more communities are looking to make energy work better for them, the studies investigated energy resilience solutions for towns, including:
Energy backup systems for essential services and community hubs, including:
Larger town-scale energy solutions.
Options focused on boosting network resilience in high-risk areas to ensure community relief hubs and key infrastructure maintain power during future extreme weather events.
DEECA worked with electricity distributors AusNet Services, Powercor and United Energy on the studies, consulting with key local stakeholders, including Local Councils and emergency services organisations, to discuss the location and function of potential energy solutions.
The studies were completed in October 2022.
$7.5 million will be allocated for the delivery of energy backup systems in up to 24 towns. Community consultation will continue, seeking feedback on proposed sites and solutions for the energy backup systems. Preparation works will commence with AusNet Services and Beon, and installations will begin in 2023.
Energy Resilience Solutions focus on select towns within the following Local Government Areas:
City of Greater Bendigo
Colac Otway Shire
Macedon Ranges Shire
Mornington Peninsula Shire
Surf Coast Shire
Yarra Ranges Shire
Microgrid Demonstration Initiative
The $10 million Microgrid Demonstration Initiative (MDI) supports the development and implementation of microgrid demonstration projects. These projects address key microgrid sector challenges. They also contribute to the unlocking of the microgrid sector in Victoria.
The MDI grant program funding supports statewide microgrid projects. These total over $27 million in value.
The project will demonstrate the economic opportunities for shared renewable energy and battery assets in communities.
It will reduce the local demand for electricity from the grid and reduce the need for seasonal diesel generators. In doing so, the community of Euroa will demonstrate an economic alternative for local renewable generation for network operators.
Monash University was awarded $441,450 towards a $981,000 project.
The project aimed to demonstrate the market potential for a third-party entity responsible for microgrids.
The project will demonstrate how this microgrid operator can manage customers’ (campus buildings) energy use and bills and explore opportunities to develop economic value from microgrid operations.
In June 2021, Monash University’s Microgrid Electricity Market Operator (MEMO) was complete.
The project has:
investigated the business case and regulatory barriers for the deployment of a third-party microgrid electricity market operator
developed tools and frameworks required for MEMO operations, and for other sites operating smart embedded networks
tested the commercial viability of the MEMO through Monash’s microgrid energy market trials.
Leveraging Monash’s physical microgrid, the project has also assessed the market potential of a Distribution System Operator (DSO) in the National Electricity Market (NEM).
SwitchDin was awarded $210,000 for a $330,742 project. The project was completed in September 2019.
The project delivered a microgrid at Birchip Cropping Group's local facility with 51kW of solar PV and 137kW of battery storage and includes
a smart control solution that coordinates the inverter
battery bank and other equipment to ensure the microgrid can operate within the electricity network.
The project demonstrates microgrid technology and its ability to lower energy costs and improve energy reliability for the region's farmers.
Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) has been awarded $380,389 towards a $767,014 project. The project established a microgrid in Yackandandah to reduce energy bills for local residents and help the community achieve their 100% renewable energy target by 2022.
The project will increase the number of houses with solar PV and batteries on a Single Wire Earth Return powerline and include control technology to manage network security.
In July 2021, The TRY Microgrid Project was complete.
It focused on a ‘single wire earth return’ (SWER) line, common in rural and end-of-grid locations across Australia.
The project involved engagement with 33 network-connected households. Subsidised the installation of
17 smart Energy Controllers
9 Residential solar and battery systems
5 CO2 Hot water heat pumps.
The microgrid delivers lower power prices and more reliable and resilient power supplies for residents in a bushfire prone area.
A local success story. This microgrid is reducing power bills and emissions for community members. It is also providing them with reliable power. The project supported small businesses and individuals with solar and battery installation.
They have also been connected to the microgrid.
This project demonstrates our support for communities transitioning to renewable energy.
Euroa Microgrid Demonstration community members video
Watch the Euroa Microgrid Demonstration project 3-minute video, which includes interviews with community members.
SwitchDin – Birchip Cropping Group Microgrid Project
This is the first completed operational project under the Microgrid Demonstration Initiative. It provides a working example of microgrid technologies in the Loddon Mallee region. It also demonstrates the benefits for the local community.