Deakin University has officially opened its $23 million renewable energy microgrid, which features Australia’s largest solar farm ever built on a university campus.
The official launch was held at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong on April 22 and includes a 7MW array – the largest behind-the-meter PV generation system in Australia. It includes a staggering 23,000 ground-mounted panels, as well as 833 on campus rooftops. This was built in tandem with AusNet Services and Mondo Power.
Not only will this expediate the campus’ plans to become carbon neutral, but it also serves as a test pilot for industry-relevant research into the management of microgrids. Essentially, the data from the ongoing use of this system could be used to establish large-scale setups that could power entire cities.
Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said the goal was for the campus to be totally carbon neutral for 2025. He hopes the university will be a leader that will inspire more large companies and facilities to follow in their footsteps.
“Australia is in a strong position to benefit from moving rapidly in this endeavour, and at Deakin, we believe we have a duty to use our capabilities and assets to demonstrate both ambition and leadership on the issue of renewables,” he said.
“We want to be a working example – a ‘living lab’ – of how a large organisation can lead through its actions and fundamentally change its ways of doing. This includes the complete, systemic integration of sustainability across all our activities.
Professor Martin called for bi-partisan political commitment and a cross-sector collective effort from all industries over the next few decades to achieve a sustainable future.
Microgrid technology rolling out across Australia
Deakin University might be one of the biggest microgrids in the country, but there are plenty of other large-scale ones. Monash University is developing a model that it wants to use as a template for how cities can be 100 per cent powered by renewables. It includes 20 buildings, 1MW of solar, 1 MWh of storage and two EV chargers.
The University of Queensland has launched its Industry 4.0 Energy TestLab, which will run simulations to deliver:
- Power system analytics
- Help with future energy management
- Assist with the transition from centralised energy generation to a complex decentralised system
- Cyber-physical systems security
The project was launched in collaboration with Siemens and funded by the Australian Government.
Fremantle, Western Australia, has a new housing estate that includes rooftop PV and microgrid technology. Each of the 36 townhouses has its own 5 kW PV system, which helps manage water and power throughout the complex.
New technology is also being trialled in the Daintree, Queensland, where residents in this World Heritage region are using their rooftop systems to create hydrogen. The trial is ongoing, and aims to determine if a solar to hydrogen microgrid is cost-effective.