Monday, May 27th, 2013 - Energeia
Embedded microgrids empower consumers by giving them greater control over the cost, carbon intensity and reliability of their electricity supply and, ultimately, the option of complete independence from the main grid.

With more than 1 in 10 households installing solar PV systems, Australian consumers are no longer relying on the main grid for all their electricity needs. As the cost of installing solar continues to fall and the price of mains electricity continues to rise, more households will be generating more local power. This shift from centralised to ‘embedded’ electricity generation is challenging the power industry’s status quo.

The uptake of residential solar PV has already created an oversupply of power during daylight hours. As a result, new installations are now offered less than a fifth of the previous rate received for any excess they sell to retailers and are likely to see the price continue to fall as the oversupply increases.

Oversupply into the main grid can also cause inverters to automatically disconnect to protect power quality, and grid outages trigger solar PV systems to automatically disconnect for safety reasons. These disconnections represent a loss of value to households which have invested in distributed generation and they will look for ways to protect their investment.

According to the just released report, Over the Edge: The Australian Outlook for Embedded Microgrids to 2027 by energy research specialist Energeia , a technical solution is already available – embedded microgrids.

Embedded microgrid solutions are a combination of local power source/s, battery storage, electrical interconnections, telecommunications and controls that together can deliver uninterrupted power when the main grid is shut down, switching back to the main grid when power is restored.

“We expect embedded microgrid technology to be commercially viable from around 2015,” said Energeia’s Managing Director Ezra Beeman.

 With storage, consumers do not need to sell their surplus solar power to retailers; instead they can store it for their own use during peak pricing periods and earn a considerably higher return on their solar PV investment.

The sophisticated control systems associated with microgrids allow them to operate in ‘island mode’ using local sources, such as solar PV and Combined Heart and Power (CHP), during an oversupply or outage event on the main grid.

Over the longer term, microgrids could provide a permanent alternative to grid-supplied electricity, with consumers increasingly choosing to go off the grid completely.

“Ultimately, we see microgrids offering customers an attractive alternative to mains supply, particularly for home businesses, where a loss of supply can have significant financial implications,” said Mr Beeman.

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Energeia


Energeia is a Sydney based independent energy industry specialist providing research and advisory services to organisations focused on the emerging consumer side energy technology, energy services and electricity industries.

Although one of the newest management consultancies in Australia, Energeia now has one of the largest energy and utilities practices, with ten full-time specialists.
Michelle Smith
P: 02 9006 1550
M: 04 2298 3104
W: www.energeia.com.au/

Keywords

electricity prices solar PV energy storage reliability consumers

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