June 5, 2024

Victoria Launches Solar Microgrid in Monbulk to Prevent Blackouts

A solar-powered microgrid has been introduced in Monbulk, Victoria, as part of a $7.5 million state government initiative aimed at safeguarding fire and storm-prone communities from prolonged blackouts due to extreme weather events.

Monbulk RSL gets 15 kW Solar Array with Battery Storage

A 15 kW rooftop solar array, combined with a 24 kW / 48 kWh battery energy storage system, has been installed at the Monbulk RSL to ensure a reliable energy supply for the small community in the Yarra Ranges, approximately 40 kilometers east of Melbourne, during storm or bushfire-related power outages.

The system consists of an existing 9 kW rooftop PV array, 6 kW of new REC solar panels, 48 kWh of battery energy storage from Powerplus, three Selectronic inverters, and an Ubi Smart Energy Controller from Mondo. Additionally, it features a 44 kVA diesel-powered generator as a backup.

Grid System Was Launched Under $7.5m ERS Program

AusNet announced that the fully standalone grid-connected system is a component of the Victorian government’s $7.5 million (USD 4.99 million) Energy Resilience Solutions (ERS) program. In the event of network outages, the grid-system seamlessly switches to backup supply.

In reaction to the 2021 storms, which severely disrupted the state's electricity supply and highlighted the looming threat of future climate-related extreme weather events, the ERS initiative has allocated funds to install solar panels, battery energy storage systems, and backup generators in community buildings across 26 towns. These towns were identified as particularly vulnerable to network disruptions during extreme weather events.

The community hubs are designed to offer residents affected by storms and power outages with amenities for cooking, charging devices, and accessing information during prolonged periods without electricity. Additionally, these communities will enjoy the ongoing advantages of affordable renewable energy, ensuring clean electricity is supplied to the host buildings throughout the year.

Crucial Role of Renewable Energy

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio emphasized the critical need for renewable energy solutions to ensure community energy security, a point underscored by the February storms that left over 530,000 electricity customers statewide without power.

"We're ensuring that in the event of outages, locals can depend on a safe and connected community space," she stated.

Member for Monbulk Daniela De Martino emphasized the importance of developing energy resilience solutions for communities in light of climate change, which is expected to intensify storms and bushfires.

"Given the increasing intensity and frequency of weather events like the February 2024 storms, It's crucial that Monbulk's electricity distribution system can support residents during outages and ensure prompt reconnection for all Victorians," she emphasized. "Through this ERS initiative, we're guaranteeing that the RSL will have the necessary power during blackouts to maintain essential services such as lighting, device charging, and access to hot water."

Most of the systems identified under the ERS program have been installed, with the remaining installations in Healesville and Apollo Bay anticipated to be completed by September of this year.

The utilization of renewable energy solutions aligns with broader efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. By leveraging clean energy sources, communities not only enhance their resilience but also contribute to the overall sustainability of the energy sector.

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