The first step in unlocking investments in microgrids for regional areas has begun with the Australian Government’s $50 million program to support feasibility studies into microgrids.
The first round of the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund is now open to applications from across Australia. Up to $20 million of grants will be awarded through this first round.
The grants will fund rural community organisations, electricity distribution businesses and other interested entities to undertake feasibility studies on the viability of microgrid solutions in off-grid and fringe-of-grid locations.
Microgrids are stand-alone power systems that can operate independently or maintain a connection to the grid by harnessing distributed energy resources such as solar photovoltaics and batteries.
Microgrid technology is becoming increasingly cost effective, creating the opportunity for a reliable, low cost, off-grid supply. This is especially useful for customers in remote locations, on the fringe-of-grid, reducing the need for expensive poles and wires.
Supplying remote, grid supplied customers to a self-supporting microgrid could save hundreds of millions of dollars in costly network infrastructure and maintenance while improving reliability. Renewable-based microgrids can also reduce the use of diesel generators in remote communities.
Where feasibility studies find that microgrids are economically viable, additional support can be sought from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
Round one applications close on 21 November 2019.