A $50 million program to support microgrid pilot projects across regional Australia, announced in the 2020-21 federal budget, was launched by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Friday.
The Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Program aims to improve the resilience and reliability of electricity supply in regional communities and demonstrate solutions to technical, regulatory or commercial barriers to the use of the technologies.
It builds on the federal government's $50.4 million Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, which funded feasibility studies for communities such as Birdsville, Windorah, Burketown, Mapoon, and Cape York to investigate deployment of local microgrid technologies.
Microgrids are small scale electricity systems that can coordinate local energy resources such as solar panels, battery storage and other distributed infrastructure to provide secure and reliable electricity within the microgrid, as well as optimising renewable energy generation and usage.
It could also provide services back to a major grid, or operate independently of a major grid.
They might involve solar panels, battery storage and other distributed infrastructure as well as hydrogen, new forms of energy storage or diesel generation.
Coordinating local electricity resources in a microgrid can bolster the resilience and reliability of supply in the event of a natural disaster, making it a particularly appealing option for communities prone to bushfires, floods or cyclones.
For remote communities, microgrids offer a pathway to switch to renewable energy, reduce emissions, costs and fuel security issues and improve reliability and security for remote communities with weak grids or grids that are reliant on diesel generation.
RAMPP funding will be available to projects that have been proven to be viable through a feasibility study.
ARENA is expecting applications demonstrating grid connected microgrids, standalone power systems, and remote isolated microgrids.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said RAMPP funding will support the demonstration of a wide range of microgrid technologies.
"Whether it's maintaining electricity supply during and after emergencies such as bushfires and floods, or improving the reliability and security of power supply in remote communities, this program will showcase the diverse benefits microgrids offer regional Australia," he said.
"With feasibility studies funded in every state, RRCRF is showing us that microgrids provide an exciting opportunity to integrate renewables into regional communities.
"ARENA is proud to be delivering this next step, funding pilot projects that demonstrate the real world potential and community benefit of microgrids."
RAMPP funding applications opened on September 24, and more information on how to apply is available on the funding page.
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The story $50 million to ramp up microgrids in regional Australia first appeared on North Queensland Register.