SA real estate developers increasingly interested in microgrids, says SAPN

South Australia’s electricity network operator says real estate developers are taking a growing interest in renewable energy-based micro-grids, to combat the soaring cost of establishing new networks for housing developments.

SA Power Networks (SAPN) says there have been numerous discussions with developers and service providers over how this many be done.

“We have been in discussions with various potential real estate developers who are interested in exploring options for microgrids, which includes combinations of solar/batteries installed on new homes and a grid connection for sharing of energy,” SAPN spokesman Paul Roberts said in an emailed statement.

“At this stage these have been options discussions and the challenge to them progressing is the commercial arrangements in terms of apportioning the costs and risks between the developer, home buyers and us as network operator.”

SAPN says developing microgrids will be a cheaper option for the network than upgrading its extended grid, and also in making repairs to lines damaged by storms and fires. And it will increase safety.

Roberts says SAPN is also exploring opportunities to utilise “non-traditional” approaches to enabling new developments in edge of grid applications.

“Such solutions may enable much more cost-effective ways to connect new customers in remote locations by utilising new technologies in combination with a thin network connection that requires little or no augmentation of existing infrastructure,” he says.

SAPN is also rolling out household battery storage trials, starting with members of staff, before rolling out what it says could be the biggest home battery trial in Australia.

The network is aiming to recruit 100 residents in suburban Adelaide in an area where it needs to invest in increased capacity in the next few years due to localised demand growth.

“The trial would test the benefits for customers of solar/battery installations and whether they can help avoid the need to build additional network infrastructure/capacity,” Roberts says.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson