Exciting progress for Surf Coast’s microgrid project with Monash Unive

Cr Liz Pattison  pictured in front of the battery.JPG

Community members are invited to provide input as part of two feasibility studies looking at how a microgrid system can best meet the needs of communities in Torquay and Lorne.

Monash University and Birdwood Energy have partnered with Surf Coast Shire Council and Surf Coast Energy Group to conduct the feasibility studies, with community workshops to be held Wednesday 16 November in Lorne and Wednesday 7 December in Torquay.

Monash University has significant microgrid, smart energy and integration experience through its own Net Zero journey and has partnered with Birdwood Energy to provide storage and commercial expertise.

Priya Galketiya, the Monash University Project Lead welcomed the support of Surf Coast Shire Council.

“We have been lucky to have the full support of our council partners. Councils play a critical role providing the link to the community, enabling the project to have the best opportunity to meet community needs,” Mr Galketiya said.

He said a microgrid is a system for managing electricity supply and demand on behalf of locally interconnected users (homes and / or businesses).

“A microgrid can realise greater value for users by pooling assets such as excess solar generation. This can provide for greater efficiencies when compared to individuals buying their own batteries for storing any excess electricity they produce,” he said.

The project started with initial community and council discussions in late 2021, 1-on-1 sessions with larger energy users in the community and a survey of interested residents and businesses.

“These conversations and the survey data enabled us to identify the battery sites; one at The Sands, Torquay and the other at Foodworks in Lorne,” he said.

“We are also installing monitoring devices at other businesses; Council facilities and many residents have given us permission to access their solar generation and electricity use data. This data will help us understand the community’s power usage and optimum pathways to efficiently use assets such as batteries, solar generation and opportunities such as electrification (for example heating and cooling or electric vehicles) to provide greater benefit to participants.”

Two 50kWh batteries were delivered in October to the Torquay and Lorne sites. Electricity generation and user data will be collected and analysed over summer to enable demonstration of options detailed in the feasibility report which will be released in April next year.

Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor Libby Stapleton welcomed the microgrid project.

“As a Council we want to support emerging energy solutions to power the transition towards renewable energy,” she said. “We’re pleased to play a part in this initiative to drive down electricity related emissions, and we encourage locals to learn more about the project and get involved through the upcoming workshops.”

Community input into the feasibility study will be welcomed at a workshop at Mantra Lorne on Wednesday 16 November (7pm to 8.30pm) and a workshop at The Sands Torquay on Wednesday 7 December (7pm to 8.30pm).

The workshops are open to the community and will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn more about microgrids, hear from experts and provide input to shape the future of microgrids on the Surf Coast.

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