Clean, affordable energy for regional microgrid

Solar & batteries offset diesel for Lockhart River

 
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Background

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Located on the Cape York peninsula, the township of Lockhart River is a community of about 700 people. Power for Lockhart River Township was delivered primarily by diesel powered generators over an isolated network (microgrid) managed by Energy Queensland but not connected to the larger grid.

 
 

The Goal

As part of a joint partnership with the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply (DEWS), the client’s aim was to reduce the Lockhart River community’s reliance on expensive and polluting diesel fuel, augmenting the system with solar PV and battery storage distributed across four council-owned facilities

The Solution

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Working with energy services company Yurika, a SwitchDin industrial Droplet™ controller was installed at each of the four sites at Lockhart River.

SwitchDin worked closely with Ergon’s power engineers to integrate the Droplets™ with Ergon’s Power Station Controller (PSC), which monitors diesel generator output, network conditions, and solar irradiance conditions in real time - while orchestrating distributed resources to help achieve the network stability and supply guarantee.

The Droplets™ abstract resource data for the PSC, providing a simple, single consolidated control and monitoring interface for the client. Droplets™ also implement PSC instructions in real time, providing instrumentation for crucial control calculations at the edge of the grid.

Each site contains differing quantities and sizes of generation resources from four different equipment manufacturers: AC-coupled solar PV provided by SMA Sunny Tripower inverters (10 to 26kW), DC-coupled solar by Schneider MPPT 60 800s, plus Ecoult Batteries and Selectronic SP PRO battery inverters operating in three phase mode.

Droplets™ virtualise these assets so that the Ergon PSC “sees” a single virtual controllable resource at each site.

Screenshot of the ‘portfolio’ page from the monitoring/management portal for the Lockhart River microgrid, showing all assets/sites managed under the project.

 

Project outcomes:

Outside the box accolades: The Lockhart River Project earned the Clean Energy Council’s 2018 Innovation Award for its unique approach to servicing vulnerable communities.

Cleaner energy benefits the community: The reduction in diesel fuel consumption results in direct savings for the community - plus a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Reduced government expenditure: The project is expected to reduce the government subsidy required to supply affordable electricity to isolated communities.

 

Highlights

  • SwitchDin provided enabled integration and control of diverse components to allow Ergon Energy to meet utility-grade reliability obligations while delivering more affordable energy to clients.

  • Project managers can access a suite of real time and historic reporting and instrumentation data via SwitchDin’s Stormcloud™ cloud platform.

  • SwitchDin is proud to have worked with one of Australia’s most progressive utilities to make this award-winning project possible

Next steps

The model used for the Lockhart River project is being examined as an option of other diesel-reliant communities across the state. SwitchDin also continues to work with Yurika and Energy Queensland on a number of cutting-edge projects.

 

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