Why would we want to build a microgrid in Cobargo?
The microgrid will consist of a solar farm, a large community-scale battery and possibly some backup generators able to power that part of the town providing essential services in the event of future grid outages. A microgrid will make our power more resilient, renewable, self-reliant and keep the benefits local.
This project will provide us with a blueprint to move forward.
The recent bushfires showed just how dependent we are on a stable electricity supply, and the consequences of that supply going down. Some of the services which were lost:
- Heating and cooling, hot water, fans and air filtration, lighting.
- Refrigeration in homes and businesses leading to food perishing
- Town water supply
- Phone and Internet leading to no EFTPOS or internet banking
- Petrol pumps
The microgrid may allow a portion of the town to disconnect from the rest of the grid in the event of an outage and self-power. Essential services in town would still operate in the event of a total power outage by running off locally generated solar electricity stored in large community-scale batteries.
Australia, like the rest of the world, is shifting towards new, clean energy production. A renewable energy transformation is underway across Australia. The Bega Valley Shire Council has a target for 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
With proper planning through this feasibility study, it’s our aim to develop a plan that will allow our community and others in the Bega Valley to benefit from this boom. As a community we can work together to co-design this renewable energy project to ensure that it builds community resilience and keeps the lights on, lowers electricity costs, creates jobs and returns other economic benefits.
Power will be generated locally. The aim is to develop a plan for a community scale solar farm to produce power to supply the town, in addition to any households and other buildings with rooftop solar. The system will be grid-connected, allowing us to export any excess back into the grid.
Keeping Benefits Local
We are hoping that this project will show that community scale power grids like this can not only provide local benefits, but be financially sustainable.
In our ideal case, at least part of the solar farm and community battery will be community owned, meaning this money will stay in the local region. Instead of your electricity bill going to pay large commercial coal power plants, it will be going back into the community!
We are also working to improve resilience and keep energy dollars in the local community by expanding rooftop solar and encouraging improved home energy efficiency. We have applied for Federal Government funding for rooftop solar and behind-the-meter batteries on several Cobargo public buildings. And following the Black Summer fires we arranged two webinars at which leading energy efficiency experts discussed the opportunities and challenges of building back more energy efficient homes.