Privately operated, renewable energy microgrids may play an important role in future grids. A key feature of a microgrid is the ability to operate independently from the main grid and to potentially ‘island’ for periods of time. Islanding may be a response to economic or operational conditions. Grid-connected microgrids based on renewable energy are not common in regulated networks. The standards and regulations for these systems are under development, at a national level. Sites that typically benefit from the ability to island involve critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and data centres.
The case for a commercial microgrid is less understood. However, such a microgrid could be based on known technical designs. This sub-project will support the installation of a commercial microgrid at a site with multiple tenants and customers. The microgrid owner will lead the development of this project. A pre-feasibility study has been undertaken by Ekistica for two sites in Alice Springs.
This sub-project seeks to determine how the microgrid owner can manage customer and tenant contracts regarding the provision of energy; and understand liabilities for supply during periods of disconnection from the network. Customer benefits will also be investigated, as well as their tolerance to islanding events and any disruptions to supply. Regulatory barriers to the wider implementation of microgrids in the Northern Territory will be identified, as will the relationship with System Control and its ability to ‘dispatch’ the commercial microgrid.