Microgrid Projects and Virtual Power Plants from Maine to Australia

March 30, 2018
Municipal microgrid bill moves forward in Maine…Australia becoming microgrid epicenter…Second virtual power plant proceeds in South Australia
Municipal microgrid bill moves forward in Maine

Pro-microgrid legislation in Maine now heads to the full House and Senate for consideration following its approval March 20 by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, LD 257 would allow Maine cities and towns to develop microgrids in partnership with utilities. Specifically, municipalities could bring microgrid proposals before the public utilities commission for approval.

The bill is only one page and still in concept form. Once fully developed, it will address use of renewable resources within microgrids, methods for adding and managing storage, and rates related to generation and stored power.

The legislation also will address municipal electricity credits and compensation for microgrids when they shed electrical load to reduce peak demand, which consequently reduces costs to utility ratepayers.

“Microgrids are well suited to withstand weather events and more likely to prevent outages,” said Devin, a Democrat from Newcastle. “As weather events become more frequent and more extreme, we’re going to need to keep trying new ideas if we want to make sure everyone’s lights stay on. Over the long run, this could even lower our electric bills.”

Go Australia!

When it comes to microgrids and distributed energy resources, Australia’s got a lot going for it, according to a new report by Navigant Research.

Several factors make it in an epicenter of the energy decentralization movement. Australia faces power outages, wholesale and retail price spikes, and among the highest penetrations of distributed solar PV in the world.

Navigant describes Australia as an incubator and a laboratory not only for microgrids, but also virtual power plants and transactive energy.

“Blackouts and skyrocketing retail power prices in 2017 have created the perfect storm in Australia for quick answers to reliability, flexibility, and cost containment,” said Peter Asmus, research director with Navigant Research. “If there is one place in the world where the promises of DER can be validated sooner rather than later, for both prosumers and consumers, that place is Australia.”

A free summary of “Capitalizing On Integrated DER in Australia” is available on Navigant’s site.

Learn more at Microgrid 2018 in Chicago, where Peter Asmus will present: “Global Microgrid Tour: All Signs Point to Australia” on the event’s opening day, May 7. 

Again, Go Australia!

A $23 virtual plants planned in South Australia has received a boost in the form of a $7.7 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The funding will go to Simply Energy, an Engie company based in Australia that is building the system.

Located in Adelaide, the virtual power plant will include Tesla Powerwall 2 home batteries for up to 1,200 households, representing 6 MW of residential energy storage. The project also includes 2 MW of demand response that will be deployed across 10 commercial businesses.

Definitions for virtual power plants vary. In Adelaide, they are centrally-managed networks of batteries installed behind-the-meter that can be collectively controlled to deliver benefits to customers, energy retailers and the local grid.

The virtual power plants batteries are expected to deliver cost savings, as well as backup power to customers, after the system is completed at the end of 2019.

The South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) sees the three-year trial as a way to gain greater visibility into the workings of behind-the-meter battery storage. SAPN will use the batteries to address local network constraints and manage demand.

“We think consumer energy resources have a huge role to play in Australia’s energy future, but we are still figuring out how we can orchestrate rooftop solar and home batteries to feed back into the grid. This is technically hard to do, which is why these pilot projects are so important,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht,

The virtual power plant project will use a distributed energy exchange or “deX” platform developed by Greensync. The platform provides an energy marketplace for energy capacity transactions between businesses, households, communities and utilities in response to price signals from the network owner.

Simply Energy’s virtual power plant will be the second in South Australia. ARENA previously provided $5 million in funding to AGL to establish a virtual power plant of 1,000 households and businesses across Adelaide.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of EnergyChangemakers.com. She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

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