Victorian town turns to solar and storage for energy security

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A 15 kW rooftop solar array coupled with a 24 kW / 48 kWh battery energy storage system has been installed at the Monbulk RSL to provide a reliable energy supply for the small community in the Yarra Ranges, about 40 kilometres east of Melbourne, during storm or bushfire-related power outages.

The system comprises an existing 9 kW rooftop PV array, 6 kW of new REC solar panels, 48 kWh of battery energy storage from Powerplus, three Selectronic inverters, and an Ubi Smart Energy Controller from Mondo. It also includes a 44 kVA diesel-fuelled generator as back-up.

AusNet said the grid-connected system, rolled out as part of the Victorian government’s $7.5 million (USD 4.99 million) Energy Resilience Solutions (ERS) program, is fully islandable so when the network experiences an outage the system switches over to back-up supply.

Launched in response to the 2021 storms that wreaked havoc on electricity supply in the state and the threat of future climate-related extreme weather events, the ERS initiative has provided funding for solar panels, battery energy storage systems and back-up generators at community buildings in 26 towns identified as being at high-risk of network disruptions during extreme weather events.

The community hubs are designed to provide storm and outage-impacted residents with facilities to cook meals, charge devices and access information during extended power outages. The communities will also benefit year-round from having cheap renewable energy providing clean electricity supplied to the host buildings.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the importance of delivering renewable energy solutions to secure energy supply for communities was reinforced in February when storms left more than 530,000 electricity customers across the state without power.

“We’re … making sure that if outages do occur, locals can rely on a safe, connected community space,” she said.

Member for Monbulk Daniela De Martino said with climate change set to increase the severity of storms and bushfires, developing energy resilience solutions for communities is vital.

“Weather events like the February 2024 storms are becoming more intense and frequent, so it’s critical for the Monbulk community that our electricity distribution system is equipped to support people when outages occur and that Victorians are reconnected as quickly as possible,” she said.

“This ERS will keep the lights on, the phones charged and the kettle boiled at the RSL in the event of a power outage.”

The majority of systems identified as part of the ERS program have been installed with the remaining installations in Healesville and Apollo Bay expected to be completed by September this year.

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