Australian Pilot Project Links Solar+Storage with Demand Management
A new partnership in Australia is combining community solar, battery storage, and demand-side management to bring about what One Step Off The Grid calls a “watershed moment” in the evolution of the country’s power grid.
The five-year project, supported by an AU$554,886 jobs grant from the Victoria state government, “features a traditional network company leveraging non-network solutions to fix an age-old grid problem that used to mean only one thing: more poles and wires,” writes energy specialist Sophie Vorrath.
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Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula tourist area has had serious issues with grid capacity during peak summer periods. So smart grid start-up GreenSync, in partnership with United Energy, is introducing an incentive program for households, small businesses, and community organizations to reduce or shift 11 megawatts of peak demand through solar and battery storage.
For participating households, the new system “will mostly mean that their air conditioners—switched on by the thousands during the peak holiday season—can have their power remotely optimized or their use sequenced to lower peak demand when the grid is under stress,” Vorrath explains—and to do it with no loss in occupant comfort.
“Most consumers won’t even notice the difference, except for the very rare occasion where they may be on the verge of a blackout,” said GreenSync managing director and co-founder Phil Blythe. In those “critical peak” moments, “it’s either the whole system goes down, or we just start adjusting your air conditioner.”
The broader reality is that peak-shaving is the best option available for Mornington Peninsula. “If we don’t do anything here, we’re going to have to invest tens of millions of dollars in more poles and wires,” Blythe told Vorrath. “We can do that, or we can start diverting that (capital) into battery storage systems or helping you put in smart devices in your home, that allow you to participate and help manage the grid as a community.”