Micro Grid

Community owned Micro-grids project.

Micro Grid

Community owned Micro-grids project.

We have all heard about the great transition from fossil-based fuels to renewables, but have we been allowed to discuss who will own and control the new energy producing assets. Will these new assets become hostage to the same enterprises that currently own and operate the power grid or can we the community have a say in how this new system will work. Ironically the money that is being used to build this system more often than not is our money, it comes from your superannuation fund and provides us with a tax-free investment in our futures.

Have you asked yourself how can I get to own a little bit of this action. Sure you can install some government subsidized solar panels on your roof, an inverter and even a storage battery if you have a spare $14,000, but you are always reliant on the poles and wires and their connection to the electricity grid that is owned and controlled by large corporations. These corporations have a dominant influence upon government policy and where the big infrastructure spending goes, such as the extension of the snowy mountain great water battery or Elon Musk`s super large Tesla storage battery, or all of those windmills you now see dotting our hills.

The current plan by government to rebuild our energy provision infrastructure is to allow the free market to take care of it.

You do not need to spend a great deal of time researching to discover the electricity supply market has grown at a rapid rate in rather an ad-hoc way. Any engineer will know that when building a sophisticated long lasting and reliable energy supply network requires a government plan.

We have ask ourselves,

Who will manufacture the components and to what standards in order to facilitate the greatest return to the community both in relation to cost, servicing and reliability. The renewable energy rebuild involves a multitude of components that can be manufactured in Australia provided the manufacturer is guaranteed a sustainable market and can operate profitably. The advantages for the community to have a locally based supply chain are Consistency of product, employment opportunities, technological development, availability of product, greater efficiency in maintaining the system. The current model, particularly with regards to solar photo voltaic installations, is based upon a free market model. Each installation is built by individual contractors utilising their own selected components. In a single street there maybe ten different types of Photo Voltaic panels, inverters, wiring and cabling. The installation longevity and maintenance costs are not evaluated and the overall reliability is the system is ignored. The speed at which the take up of this new technology is driven by the government subsidized cost benefit outcome which has impacted upon the stability of the grid. The interface between the old coal fossil fuelled production system and the new solar based system is causing problems with the supply system as there are not enough storage batteries positioned in the most appropriate positions with which to buffer the system.

Hence the arrival of Elon Musk`s very large and expensive big battery and pumped hydro modelled on an older technology. There are no plans on how to manage the growth of the new system by creating micro grids supported by large lower cost locally produced storage batteries, accompanied by locally produced quality solar panels and inverters.

Ideally, we need to manufacture all of our photovoltaic solar cells and panels utilising a consistent model made in such a way that they last for a very long time and can be easily repaired when something goes wrong. We need to manufacture our own inverters, cables and connectors. We need to manufacture our own low-cost storage batteries that can be placed strategically so as to buffer the loads and improve the overall efficiency of the transmission system. We must acknowledge the effect of transmission loses on the overall efficiency of the system.

Proposal, Very briefly.

Green field site, say 1000 house lots.

Connect 100 houses to 1MWhr battery. IE 10 batteries.

Lay the underground wiring and position the ten batteries during the land development phase.

The micro grid is operated by a management company that retains 10% ownership of the network.

Management Company is paid to design source and install all of the equipment. Batteries, underground wiring, solar panels, inverters.

Management Company is paid to run the system, billing, maintenance new installations sale of excess power generated and install the software to run the system.

The operating company owns all of the wiring to each home, all of the hardware to generate the power and the batteries. The land holders own the other 90% and also obtain subsidised power from the company they have a shareholding in.

I am assuming that one 1 MWh Sodium Iron battery would be more economical to purchase than 100 10KWhr Lithium Ion batteries.

I am assuming that it would be more economical to fit out 1000 houses in one area over say a three year period using the same equipment than each house individually installing a system.

I am assuming the system would be more efficient more reliable and of better quality, making it last a lot longer before requiring replacement.

The benefits would be ownership of the power generating system by the community. A lower capital cost per home A system that could be utilised as a buffer for peaks and troughs in the grid.

The incentive for the operating company apart from guaranteed on going cash flow from running and maintaining the system would be access to 10% of the power generated.

Also by running a company structure would allow the initial capital equipment to be purchased GST free.