AusNet Services and Horizon Power shared the gong for innovative projects at the Clean Energy Awards last week.
AusNet Services won the award, along with partners GreenSync and Power Technology Engineered Solutions, for its 100 per cent renewable mini-grid project.
The Mooroolbark Mini Grid trial has successfully separated and reintegrated a group of homes from the electricity grid with the use of solar panels and batteries.
Executive general manager of regulated energy services Alistair Parker said the mini-grid could change how communities used electricity in the future.
“When we began this trial, we knew what we wanted to achieve but it was about finding ways to make it happen,” Mr Parker said.
“I’m proud of the team and their ability to find solutions for this complex trial.
“With innovative thinking, persistence and problem solving, we have achieved some major milestones that could have a positive impact on delivering more reliable and secure energy as more renewable energy is introduced into the network.
“Solar panels and batteries are expensive and not everyone can afford them, but with the mini grid we are trialing, we’ve shown that not everyone will need this technology to benefit.”
The trial involves 14 homes in Melbourne’s outer east, with a series of scenarios being conducted to provide an understanding of how renewable and community energy projects can be efficiently integrated into the network and how the electricity grid can benefit from localised energy generation.
Testing so far has focused on managing the high levels of solar power within the mini grid, assessing customer benefits and exploring how mini grid technology can improve customer reliability by providing power during network outages.
Horizon took home the award for designing a new way of billing electricity, similar to mobile phone plans, to increase understanding and engagement from customers.
Users can track their energy use with an app that helps them to save money by staying under a set energy allowance each hour.