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Community Microgrids and Sustainable Energy Program

Update - December 2023

The Victorian Government together with project partners, AusNet and RACV solar hosted in-person CMSEP information sessions in Corryong, Mallacoota and Omeo during December 2023.

With thanks to each community’s attendance and feedback, works have started on making community and essential business sites more prepared to operate off-grid in the event of an outage.

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 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 was 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:

  • Mallacoota
  • Omeo
  • Corryong

Find out more

Energy Resilience Solutions

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;
    • rooftop solar
    • batteries
    • diesel generators.
  • 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 has been allocated for the delivery of energy backup systems across towns. Community consultation will continue, seeking feedback on proposed sites and solutions for the energy backup systems. Preparation works have commenced with AusNet Services and Beon, and installations have begun in 22 towns.

These Energy Resilience Solutions are informed by the Electricity Distribution Network Resilience Review‘s Expert Panel Final Recommendations Report.

Energy Resilience Solutions systems are confirmed for the following towns within the listed Local Government Areas:

Local Government AreaTown
Cardinia Shire

Cockatoo
Emerald 
Gembrook

City of Greater Bendigo  Heathcote
Colac Otway ShireApollo Bay
Corangamite ShirePort Campbell
Hepburn Shire

Daylesford
Trentham

Macedon Ranges ShireLancefield
Moorabool ShireBlackwood
Moyne ShireMortlake
Port Fairy
Mornington Peninsula ShireBalnarring
Flinders
Red Hill 
Nillumbik Shire St Andrews
Surf Coast Shire Lorne
Wellington Shire Loch Sport
Yarra Ranges Shire Monbulk
Warburton

Find out more

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.

Funded projects

Euroa Environment Group has been awarded $680,000 towards a $1.6 million project.

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.

Monash University’s Microgrid Electricity Market Operator (MEMO) project was completed in June 2021. The project:

  • 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).

Visit Monash’s MEMO toolbox to learn more about developing microgrids.

Origin Energy has been awarded $4.5 million to develop a $20 million cloud-based project that will distribute power from up to 650 customers with solar PV and batteries during peak periods.

The Virtual Power Plant (VPP) will boost grid stability by discharging power from solar PV and batteries located at homes and commercial and industrial sites to reduce their power bills.

Explore Origin Loop's virtual power plant.

Read Origin Microgrid demonstration initiative final report. (PDF, 953.6 KB)

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 increased the number of houses with solar PV and batteries on a 'single wire earth return’ (SWER) powerline, common in rural and end-of-grid locations across Australia, and included control technology to manage network security.

The TRY Microgrid Project was completed in July 2021. The project involved engagement with 33 network-connected households and 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.

Read the Yackandandah microgrid public report. (PDF, 717.1 KB)

EnergyAustralia was awarded $889,154 towards a $1,876,955 project to develop a purpose-built microgrid in a mixed-use greenfield urban development located within the suburb of Wollert in Melbourne’s north. EnergyAustralia partnered with Villawood Properties to build the demonstration microgrid in the sustainable precinct of Rathdowne.

The microgrid will utilise embedded renewable energy generation and storage and will test the optimisation of the distributed energy resources for the benefit of residents. The project comprises an embedded electricity network with up to 190 kW of total solar generation capacity and 274 kW-hours of battery storage within a network of 36 townhouses and a common-owned Residents’ Club.

Euroa Microgrid Demonstration Initiative video

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.

Page last updated: 21/05/24