New Plans to Take Whole Housing Developments Off the Grid

New plans to take whole housing developments off the grid

New housing estates could move completely off-grid

Battery storage technology is now a major growth area, with many organisations considering the possibility of using solar photovoltaic systems coupled with battery storage as an alternative to grid electricity.

The impact of this has already been seen, with organisations like the University of Queensland investing in a solar plus battery storage system in order to create a more sustainable operation.

However, university campuses aren’t the only major pieces of infrastructure considering making the move away from grid-supplied power and towards local networks. In fact, new property developments and remote communities are already considering using a solar plus battery installation as their primary source of electricity.

In response, the government’s Energy Market Reform Working Group has recently published a consultation paper on the future regulation of new electrical installations. The paper is the first step in an ongoing consultation process that aims to review the existing regulatory framework around alternative electrical installations.

The report’s consulting period closed in the middle of March 2015, with a final set of recommendations expected later this year.  Among the core aims of the research is to establish the regulatory implications of local communities moving to self-contained electrical supplies, a feature that is likely to continue growing over coming years.

However, this move isn’t the only recent attempt to better understand how the nature of the electrical grid is changing.

New guidelines for remote communities considering renewable power

While regulators across Australia are now considering the implications of larger battery storage projects, remote communities in particular are considering the implications of relying on a greater amount of solar energy.

This was recently demonstrated by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which has released a study on the viability of greater renewable energy integration for remote electrical grids.

The project considered the implications of new solar power installations in Alice Springs, and the impact these would have on the existing grid. The research involved estimating how much solar power could be introduced to a small grid without impacting the overall supply.

What’s more, the study also looked at cloud cover and how local weather conditions might affect the overall provision of electricity from renewable sources.

The solution which the ARENA study outlined would allow for a further 10 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity to be added to the remote grid, without having any adverse effects on existing supply.

To put that in context, Alice Springs currently has 4.5 megawatts of solar PV, while also seeing a mid-afternoon peak in grid demand of 55 megawatts.

What’s more, the research revealed that the ideal solution to avoid excess cloud cover is to space out solar installations. ARENA recommended a distance of between three and five kilometres between different installations in order to minimise the impact of cloud cover.

This, coupled with cloud-tracking technology, would help to minimise the impact of cloud cover on the grid’s generation capacity.

While this research has obvious applications for other remote communities in Australia, there are lessons that can be applied to larger grid connections, according to ARENA’s CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

“This analysis is very relevant to solar projects currently being planned in the NT and elsewhere in Australia, and could allow network planners to increase the amount of solar PV that can be connected to the network,” said Mr Frischknecht.

As new initiatives confirm the viability of innovative grid solutions for remote communities, companies will need to be sure they have the right equipment and advice to meet these needs. By working with MPower, the industry leaders in providing bespoke electrical projects, businesses can be sure they have the right solution for their requirements.

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