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Electricity-sharing with neighbours could help you cut those power bills


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Want to cut your power bill? New technology could see homeowners buying electricity from their next-door neighbour

  • New technology is seeing communities build microgrids to reduce energy costs
  • Microgrids use solar panels and a battery system to store or share power
  • A Melbourne university is trialling a system they want to install Australia-wide

A growing trend in the electricity space could see more Australians producing their own power and sharing it with neighbours.

Microgrids and smart energy systems are the latest advances in energy production, with several major trials now underway at a number of communities across Australia.

At the moment, most Australians receive electricity through the main power grid, where energy is generated from one central point before travelling through power lines to individual homes.

Energy is typically generated from one central point before travelling through power lines to individual homes

But a microgrid network typically involves the use of solar panels on residential homes, alongside a battery system, which is used to store the power that’s produced through the sun’s rays.

It’s something that’s being explored in the northern Victorian town of Yackandandah, as well as at the Monash University Clayton Campus, as reported by ABC News.  

In Yackandandah the community is working off a grid-connected microgrid- where residents are generating their own power through solar panels but can also buy or sell from the main power-grid. 

Local resident Donna Jones told the ABC it’s a no-brainer for those wanting to save on power bills.

‘The cost of electricity, when you’ve got solar panels on the roof, is already reduced because the majority of the power that you’re using, you’re generating yourself,’ she said.

The second kind of micro-grid that’s been developed is an isolated grid- which operates entirely outside the main power grid and would be most commonly be found in rural or remote areas.

Solar panels are helping communities produce and store their own power

Solar panels are helping communities produce and store their own power

At the Monash University they’re trialling the microgrid system on a larger scale in the eventual hopes it may be rolled out Australia-wide.

It’s part of a bid by the tertiary institute for Net Zero Emissions by 2030.

A series of solar panels have been set up across the Clayton campus alongside a large battery system which then allows the power to be sent and used to all the buildings across the campus.

The initiative is also working on developing a system which will make its own decisions around when to reduce power and sell it back to the grid as a way of saving money.

The Monash University is trialling a microgrid using solar panels to produce zero net emissions by 2020

The Monash University is trialling a microgrid using solar panels to produce zero net emissions by 2020

How does it work? 

Residential homes or businesses collect and trap energy from the wind or sun 

The power is stored within a grid system with can feed back into the centralised electricity network or operate independently 

The microgrid works in the same way as the much larger network, operating on a supply and demand basis for the community’s energy needs

This means looking at weather forecasts and peak electricity times to try and cut back on using power from the grid when it will be most expensive.

Program director of the Uni’s Net Zero Initiative Scott Ferraro said the technogical advances will ultimately create more influence in the way energy is used and its costs.

‘The digital element of energy is really allowing us to have much smarter control of when and how we use energy, with the aim to reduce system costs,’ Mr Ferraro told the ABC. 

‘This is where everyone’s energy use is heading,’ he said. 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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