IT’S a baking hot day and it seems all the home air-conditioners on the Mornington Peninsula are switched on and guzzling power at the same time.
This surge in seasonal demand, spurred on by holiday makers, leads to an unsustainable peak and then crash, the system fails and there’s a blackout.
That’s the sort of scenario underpinning the Community Grids project – described as a “landmark” demand response and energy storage project, about to be rolled out on the southern peninsula.
Community Grids aims to improve the reliability of the area’s electricity supply without the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
It will involve solar panels, battery storage systems and demand response enabled device units, which will allow businesses, households and community centres to reduce or shift their energy use during “peak demand events” such as heatwaves.
The company behind the project, GreenSync, says that over the next five years it will engage and “incentivise” households, small businesses and community organisations from Rosebud to Portsea to help them reduce or shift their electricity use manually or through the use of solar panels and energy storage systems.
Participants reducing their demand at critical times will be given cash payments, credits or products to make their efforts worthwhile.
“We will use our cloud based technology platform to monitor and coordinate energy demand. During a critical event the platform will automatically reduce equipment use or notify participants to manually control their load,” Community Projects director Bruce Thompson said.
This will affect the use of air-conditioners, water pumps, battery storages and diesel generators.
GreenSync will receive $554,886 in state government funding to support the control platform which “co-ordinates and optimises renewables connected to the grid”.
The organisation has 25 staff at its Melbourne headquarters and has an office in Singapore.
Mr Thompson said he would engage with peninsula utilities and large commercial and industrial operations to encourage them to control their discretionary power use.
“The alternatives are building a whole new series of power lines, which would be horrendously expensive and be a big community issue, or to look at managing and controlling our loads in peak periods,” he said.
“We will be aiming to coordinate what we can and switch off power to users whom we will incentivise depending on the size of the load and its duration.
“This arrangement will be between GreenSync and individuals, retailers or community groups.”
The company says it aims to save 11-13 megawatts of load during peak demand events.
“We are just putting the pieces together with agreements with United Energy and now the state government ahead of a public launch and community engagement program to begin this summer,” Mr Thompson said.
He presented the company’s case to Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors yesterday (Monday 29 August) and will speak with council officers and community organisations again on Thursday.