A ground-breaking microgrid trial that aims to run Victoria’s Monash University on 100 per cent renewable energy – generated and stored on-site – has won grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA said on Friday that it was joining with Monash and technology partner Indra Australia to trial the microgrid on the University’s Clayton campus – an effort towards which ARENA would provide $2.97 million in funding.

The $7.1 million Monash Smart Energy City project will combine Indra’s ‘Advanced Grid Management’ (AGM) software platform with Monash’s grid-connected smart embedded network.

That network, which is being developed as part of Monash’s industry-leading Net Zero initiative, combines a variety of distributed energy resources, including up to 1MW of rooftop solar, 20 buildings with automated energy management systems, 1MWh of battery storage and electric vehicle charging stations.

As we have reported here, the University has been working since 2005 on the ambitious plan to completely eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels, while also blazing a trail for innovative renewable energy solutions at a commercial scale.

By the end of 2020, the university aims to be generating 7GWh of energy, the equivalent of powering 1000 homes in Victoria for a year.

The first phase of the plan has been is to electrify all of the University’s buildings, and then to transition all of its energy demand to 100 per cent renewables by 2030.

As well as installing solar, cogeneration and battery storage on-campus, the University recently inked a deal to buy green energy from the Murra Warra Wind Farm in Victoria.

Under the agreement, Monash will buy the rights to both electricity and large-scale renewable energy certificates (REC’s) generated by Murra Warra, located some 30km from Horsham in western Victoria.

The long-term power purchase agreement is part of the 226MW first stage of the wind farm, which is currently under construction and expected to be fully operational in 2019.

Back on campus, however, the ARENA-backed microgrid demonstration project hopes to show how a 100 per cent renewable electricity system can operate a major University campus reliably and cost-effectively, while also reducing strain on the local network, and showcasing NSW-based Indra’s software platform.

“The project will use Monash University as a ‘living laboratory’ that will help universities form their own microgrids and take control of their energy usage,” said ARENA CFO Ian Kay in comment on Friday.

“Universities use a significant amount of power during the day, Indra and Monash have offered a solution that can reduce peak demand and place the education sector on a path towards renewables,” he said.


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Trial to run Monash University on 100% renewables backed by ARENA