Monash University Offers Help in Developing Microgrids with New Toolbox

Aug. 27, 2021
One Step Off The Grid’s Sophie Vorrath describes a microgrid toolbox offered by Monash University in Australia to help those trying to develop their own embedded networks.

One Step Off The Grid’s Sophie Vorrath describes a microgrid toolbox offered by Monash University in Australia to help those trying to develop projects.

The team behind a groundbreaking solar and battery storage microgrid installed at the Clayton campus of Victoria’s Monash University has developed an online toolbox to help other businesses, precincts and communities shift to their own renewable powered embedded networks.

The Microgrid Electricity Market Operator (MEMO) toolbox, launched on Tuesday, offers a step-by-step guide on how to develop a microgrid, taking users from planning to operations and helping them to avoid barriers to uptake related to complexity and choice.

It builds on the enormous amount of work that continues to be poured into the $7.1 million Monash Smart Energy City project, which was launched in 2018 as a joint initiative of the university and industry partner Indra, and co-funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Monash Clayton microgrid is a grid-connected embedded smart network that allows the integration of local electricity demand and supply with the broader energy network – and forms one part of Monash University’s industry-leading effort to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

Since its launch, the microgrid has grown to connect 20 campus buildings and to combine 1 MW of rooftop solar and Australia’s largest commercial behind-the-meter battery storage system – a 1-MWh hybrid system combining vanadium flow and lithium ion.

Monash’s Net Zero Initiative Program Director Scott Ferraro – who has written in detail about the process of developing the Clayton microgrid here – said the MEMO toolbox had come from the team’s own “lived experience.”

“This 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,” he said.

The toolbox launch follows last month’s announcement that the university – backed by 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 analyze data to apply to the development of further investment opportunities.

The MEMO toolbox, which has received funding from the Victorian government’s Microgrid Demonstration Program, will also be supported by a professional development offering that is said to be currently in progress.

Sophie Vorrath is editor of One Step Off The Grid. This article was reposted with permission.

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