Dairy farmers in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley could soon generate and trade energy via a virtual microgrid thanks to a feasibility study funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
ARENA is putting $370,000 towards a feasibility study for the $775,000 project, which is being led by Brooklyn-based energy company LO3 Energy.
Because the virtual microgrid will connect local energy producers and users, it offers dairy farmers a better deal on energy prices. They will also be able to reduce power bills by selling their solar energy back to the grid.
The microgrid will be made up of solar PV and solar energy storage. The project aims to include up to 200 dairy farms and more than 100 household consumers. It will also include other locally selected commercial and industrial customers.
Green loans lets farmers trade energy via virtual microgrid
Farmers interested in taking part will also be offered loans from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund. The loans could be repaid through local rates with no upfront cost.
Meanwhile, the Sustainable Melbourne Fund is combining with partners including Dairy Australia and Siemens to facilitate the project. The microgrid will also use the AusNet Services distribution network.
The study should be completed by the end of 2018. If feasible, the pilot microgrid will then be rolled out in the Latrobe Valley in 2019.
Advance of peer-to-peer solar energy trading in Australia
Several trials of renewable energy microgrids are taking place around Australia. These allow consumers to sell their excess solar energy for profit and buy low-cost energy from other users when needed.
The system cuts out the middle man, gives users more control over their energy consumption and saves money for everyone involved.
Users of the revolutionary sonnenFlat battery system are also members of a virtual power plant network, where consumers buy and sell electricity as needed.