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Monash University has developed a ‘tool box’ of interactive resources to support microgrids and their implementation in commercial, industrial and community settings in Victoria. 

The Microgrid Electricity Market Operator (MEMO) ‘toolbox’ is partly funded by the Victorian government’s Microgrid Demonstration Initiative.

The MEMO toolbox comprises a step-by-step journey on how to develop a microgrid – from planning to operations – to help guide precincts, businesses and communities through the process.

The toolbox launch follows Monash University receiving almost $2 million in funding from the Federal Government to use its net zero expertise to assess the feasibility of implementing microgrids in six regional Victoria communities, announced in July 2021.

Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice-President, Mr Peter Marshall AM, said, “Through our work on microgrids, we know that there are barriers to uptake related to complexity and choice.

“Using our own operations, lived experience, research and development, and education capability, this toolbox is the first step in showcasing the role microgrids can play in helping to achieve net zero, and addresses barriers to the broader implementation of microgrids.”

Monash is supporting businesses and councils across Victoria to increase uptake, including the Yarra Ranges Council, which has a goal of achieving 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2030 as part of its Liveable Climate Plan.

Yarra Ranges Council Director, Environment and Infrastructure, Mark Varmalis, said, “Monash University’s MEMO toolbox provides resources to increase understanding of how local microgrids can assist communities and businesses transition towards renewable energy and build local resilience. 

“It also allows knowledge-sharing more broadly to benefit other local government areas.”

Monash is well-advanced on its microgrid journey at its Clayton campus, with 20 buildings connected so far, allowing the integration of local electricity demand and supply with the broader energy network.

Net Zero Initiative Program Director, Mr Scott Ferraro, said, “This toolbox has been developed from our own lived experience in developing a microgrid for our Clayton campus.

“It aims to provide a starting point for businesses and communities to understand the steps required to assess if a microgrid is right for them, how they can develop a business case to secure investment, and how they can work within the current regulatory framework.”

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “The Victorian Government is investing in microgrid demonstration projects to improve the agility, resilience, and reliability of Victoria’s electricity system. 

“I congratulate Monash University for bringing to fruition their Microgrid Electricity Market Operator project and developing a toolkit to share knowledge and opportunities for microgrids in Victoria. 

“These exciting projects are important for our future, helping us tackle climate change and reach our ambitious emissions reduction targets.”

BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, undertook a field trial in May-June 2021, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of Monash building occupants’ experience of potential alterations to the control of heating and cooling systems under microgrid test conditions. 

The study tested various control approaches, and outputs will inform Monash’s ongoing approach to building automation via the microgrid.

BehaviourWorks Australia Research Fellow, Dr Fraser Tull, said, “Beyond providing guidance for the development of the Monash University microgrid, it’s hoped that key lessons from our field trial experimentation can provide useful behavioural insights for other microgrid projects.”

The MEMO toolbox will be supported by a professional development offering, currently in progress, with precincts, businesses and communities are encouraged to pre-register interest in Monash’s education and training opportunities on microgrids.

To access the MEMO Toolbox, click here.

To access BehaviourWorks Australia’s final report on the field trial, click here.

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