$30 million microgrid research platform announced at Deakin

Over 23,000 solar panels are set to be installed on Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, as part of a major commitment to meet the growing global need for research in innovative renewable energy systems. 

An industrial-scale, smart microgrid energy system and integrated education and research platform will be established at the Waurn Ponds campus, through a partnership with AusNet Services, through its Mondo Power advanced energy solutions group.

The initiative will be the largest campus-based microgrid system in Australia and is a significant step towards the University’s ambition to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Waurn Ponds Smart Energy partnership was announced today by AusNet Services Managing Director Nino Ficca and Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO.

The partnership will establish a 7.25MW smart microgrid, including a 14.5 hectare solar energy generation farm, over 1MWh of battery storage capacity and an integrated research and visualisation centre that will be based within the CADET building. An additional 833 solar panels will be installed on campus rooftops, such as student residences.

Professor den Hollander said the new partnership will help to build Deakin’s and AusNet Services’ capacities as leaders in the field.

[testimonial_text]As we have seen in Australia and overseas, the demands on energy networks are changing rapidly as technology enables the growing shift by industry, consumers and governments towards sustainable energy generation and distributed energy systems.[/testimonial_text]
[testimonial_picture name=”Professor Jane den Hollander AO” details=”Deakin University Vice-Chancellor”]

“This partnership gives Deakin an unparalleled opportunity to help drive the renewable energy revolution by providing unique opportunities for researchers to develop and test solutions at an industrial scale and in training the next generation of energy professionals.”

AusNet Services’ Managing Director, Nino Ficca said that the partnership reflects the significant shift in how energy is being generated, delivered and used.

[testimonial_text]Our aim is to explore what the future energy possibilities might be and use the research outcomes to empower communities and customers.[/testimonial_text]
[testimonial_picture name=”Nino Ficca” details=”Managing Director -AusNet Services”]

“The microgrid could also be expanded to include research of other technologies such as hydrogen storage that could lead to hydrogen and electric vehicle integration. The opportunities that can be created leveraging this initiative are limitless.”

The system is expected to begin powering the campus from mid-2019, enabling the University to reduce campus emissions from electricity by around 50 per cent by 2020 and to continue to move towards carbon neutrality.

The panels will be located at the southern end of the campus, which is targeted for sustainable energy and agribusiness research, with the northern end focusing more on advanced manufacturing.

“While the research applications and benefits for Deakin are great, the University will also be able to reduce carbon emissions by 12,000 tonnes per year and generate half of the Waurn Ponds campus’ energy needs on site, supporting Deakin to achieve our sustainability goals,” Professor den Hollander said.

She and Mr Ficca also noted the Waurn Ponds Smart Energy Partnership will create the foundations for bringing in further partners as it progresses – expanding its research impact and benefitting the broader community.

“Deakin and AusNet Services are both passionate about supporting the communities we serve, working collaboratively with industry, relevant businesses and governments to drive forward solutions to the challenges we are all facing. Together, we’re looking forward to welcoming additional partners to increase our reach and impact,” Professor den Hollander said.

Speaking on behalf of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Peter Hodgson, Dr Adrian Panow, Director of Deakin Energy, noted that the partnership brings together Deakin’s strong and diverse capabilities in the energy sphere.

[testimonial_text]Our Deakin Energy platform brings together internationally-recognised capabilities and facilities for sustainable energy development across Deakin.[/testimonial_text]
[testimonial_picture name=”Dr Adrian Panow” details=”Director of Deakin Energy”]
Dr Adrian Panow[/testimonial_picture]

“These include the Institute for Frontier Materials, School of Engineering, BatTRI-Hub, Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory, Centre for Cyber Security Research, Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, and Centre for Energy and Natural Resource Law.

“It provides an integrated and comprehensive response to the challenge of meeting growing energy demands in an environmentally, ecologically, socially and economically-sound way.”

Future development of the project is anticipated to include expanded battery testing, the addition of a range of smaller wind turbines and the development of innovative transportation hubs, as well as the integration of renewable generation across the campus.

Mondo Power is an independent subsidiary of AusNet Services Ltd and is based out of Melbourne, Victoria. Mondo Power specialises in advanced energy management solutions for both commercial and community partners with a focus on distributed energy offerings.

AusNet Services is Victoria’s largest energy delivery service business. It owns and operates over $11 billion of electricity and gas transmission and distribution assets. For almost 100 years, it has been moving energy across Victoria, now reaching more than 1.3 million residential and business customers.

Published by Deakin Research 7 December 2017.

From left: Mr Chad Hymas, Executive General Manager, Commercial Energy Service, AusNet Services; Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO; Dr Adrian Panow, Director, Deakin Energy; AusNet Services Managing Director Mr Nino Ficca; and Mr John Stanhope AM, Chancellor, Deakin.

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