Australian Micro-Grids and Renewable Energy

Renewable energyAustralia Off-grid Renewables:

In Australia, solar power and wind power are the most popular forms of off-grid renewables because they can be installed virtually anywhere. Solar power is the preferred choice for northern parts of the country while wind power is more popular in the southern states. Both technologies can be supported by energy storage systems such as batteries.

Hydro Tasmania’s King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP) combines wind and solar power generation with energy storage and smart-grid demand-side management. The project has drastically reduced the island’s diesel dependence and resulted in periods of 100% renewable energy use.

Hydro power and geothermal power can also be used in off-grid applications. However, the use of these technologies is not as common because they require specific site conditions. Many emerging wave and tidal energy technologies are showing promise. The commercialisation of wave and tidal power generation will create off-grid opportunities for island communities in the future.

The off-grid market includes both domestic-scale and commercial-scale customers. Demand for off-grid systems also often tends to be driven by load.

Most of the demand for off-grid renewable energy in Australia comes from:

  • Households
  • pastoral stations
  • rural and indigenous communities
  • tourist facilities
  • small industrial projects
  • pumping and irrigation
  • mine sites
  • mini-grids or islands

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET):

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) is a Federal Government policy designed to ensure that at least 33,000 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The RET was reviewed by the Government and reduced in June 2015 from the previously legislated 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh.

The key points from Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET):

  • To deliver the 33,000 GWh target will require approximately 6000 MW of new renewable energy capacity to be built by 2020.
  • The revised target is expected to create more than $40.4 billion worth of investment and more than 15,200 jobs.
  • Between 30-50 major projects are likely to be built in the next five years to meet the target, along with hundreds of medium-scale solar projects from commercial and industrial businesses looking to manage their own electricity production and consumption.
  • The target is enough electricity to power the equivalent of at least 5 million average homes for a year.