Microgrids are gaining attention as a great way for streets, apartment blocks and industrial estates to band together to be energy independent and cut costs using renewables like rooftop solar.
A microgrid is designed so that a small number of property owners and tenants can generate, share and store their own energy.
Microgrid participants who have their own renewable source, like rooftop solar, generate energy to power their own building.
Excess energy is then supplied to others in the collective microgrid community who do not have the roof space or capital to buy solar panels.
Any excess energy generated beyond that can be stored in a centralised super battery for reuse within the microgrid community, or sold back to the main grid.
The microgrid can stay connected to the main grid to sell excess and ensure continuity of energy supply.
By sharing renewable energy that is locally generated, stored and distributed, people can cut their energy costs while reducing carbon emissions.
It also helps keep money local so that instead of spending money outside the region, dollars stay circulating in the community, providing jobs, and helping fund local initiatives.
Enova is the leading partner in a microgrid pilot project at Byron Bay Arts & Industry Estate, in collaboration with Essential Energy, LO3 Energy, Wattwatchers and the University of NSW.
More than 30 businesses in an industrial estate are taking part in this project and it’s the first of what we hope will be many self-sufficient electricity microgrids Enova helps to roll out.
We aim to develop a model that can be copied by communities across NSW and ultimately Australia – starting with industrial estates and similar commercial areas, and eventually residential areas.
Community energy partnerships
– Albury Wodonga
Another way Enova is helping towns to generate, store and share their own energy is by partnering with community organisations.
Albury-Wodonga on the NSW border now has its own community energy retailer following a historic partnership agreement between Enova and Border Trust, the Community Foundation for the Albury-Wodonga region.
Enova’s unique business model inspired Border Trust to form a community energy business along the same lines: renewable and local with profits returned to the community.
Together, Enova and Border Trust have created a new energy retail business called Border Community Energy (BCE).
Border Community Energy (BCE) will provide community-based electricity retailer services to the Albury-Wodonga region under its own BCE brand.
A portion of profits generated by BCE will be reinvested via Border Trust’s grants program to support grassroots community and not-for-profit, charitable initiatives.
BCE expects to start retailing in Albury by the second quarter of 2019. Wodonga residents are expected to join under a Victorian licence by the end of 2019.
Albury-Wodonga is the first regional community to partner with Enova under this kind of arrangement.