AusNet Services has launched Australia’s first mini grid trial, which will see 14 homes store and share renewable energy through residential solar systems and battery storage.

The trial will take place in the Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark, and aims to demonstrate how the homes can use these technologies to generate, store and share renewable electricity with each other as a ‘mini grid’ via their local powerlines.

AusNet Services will provide the houses with a solar power system, a purpose-built 10-kilowatt hour battery and the necessary control and data communication equipment.

AusNet Services Managing Director, Nino Ficca, said that it’s an exciting trial and thanked the residents for their willingness to participate.

“We’re now installing the solar systems, batteries and associated communication equipment and greatly appreciate the readiness of this community to take part in this groundbreaking trial,” Mr Ficca said.

“AusNet Services is excited to partner with the community to develop systems that may give consumers the choice to share their solar-generated electricity with their communities, potentially lower their bills and support the electricity network.”

The project will increase understanding of how a mini grid system can be managed and how it will interact with the main power grid. The trial will also provide insights into residential storage batteries.

Over the next 12 months, AusNet Services will focus on monitoring consumption levels and behaviours for each participating household so that individual houses can be disconnected from the electricity grid, operating solely on the solar energy generated and stored in their batteries.

The final stage of the trial will use AusNet Services’ control system to share stored renewable electricity between the homes in the street as a genuine ‘mini grid’ system.

“We’ve developed a control system that will monitor and manage energy flows within the mini grid,” Mr Ficca said.

“This system will enable the energy that is stored in batteries to be shared between houses, based on the needs of the individual houses, the diversity of customer loads within the mini grid and the needs of the network.”

Mr Ficca said this project builds upon the knowledge gained from a residential battery trial AusNet Services’ recently completed, which identified benefits for both consumers and electricity networks, and the need to find ways for both parties to work together to realise these benefits.

AusNet Services’ three-year battery storage trial tested how residential batteries can export electricity into the grid to support the network during peak demand times, during unplanned outages, such as storm events, and as a solution that may delay or offset network investment.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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