Monash University launches “toolbox” to support the uptake of microgrids across Victoria 02 September 2021

By Katy Daily

Energy Efficiency Council Education Partner Member Monash University recently launched an online ‘toolbox’ to support the implementation of microgrids in commercial, industrial and community settings, in order to enable the shift to renewable powered embedded networks.

It builds on lessons learned from the ongoing $7.1 million Monash Net Zero Initiative Smart Energy City project, which was launched in 2018 as a joint initiative with industry partner Indra, and co-funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The Microgrid Electricity Market Operator (MEMO) ‘toolbox’ is comprised of 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 work was partly funded by the Victorian Government's Microgrid Demonstration Initiative.

Monash has developed the toolbox drawing heavily from the research and lived experience that they gained over the course of developing a 20 building and growing microgrid on their Clayton campus, which allows the integration of local electricity demand and supply with the broader energy network. The Clayton campus system also includes 1MW of rooftop solar and Australia’s largest commercial behind-the-meter 1MWh battery storage system.

EEC board member Scott Ferraro is Monash’s Net Zero Initiative Program Director. Scott notes that the toolbox “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.”

BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, undertook a field trial between 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 a number of different control approaches, and outputs will inform Monash’s ongoing approach to building automation via the microgrid, and will provide useful behavioural insights for other microgrid projects.

The toolbox launch follows last month’s announcement that the University – backed by almost $2 million federal government funding – had been tasked to assess the feasibility of microgrids in six regional Victoria communities, including the Surf Coast, Yarra Ranges and Wodonga local government areas. Each microgrid will aim to virtually connect one business and around 20 homes into a microgrid including local renewable generation and energy storage – and then capture and analyse data to apply to the development of further investment opportunities.

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

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This article was originally published in the September edition of Efficiency Insight.