Tassie gets $1.5m energy boost for rural and remote areas

House on a hill

Regional Tasmania could soon see a boost in its energy capabilities, with funding announced as part of the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund. The Federal Government announced a grant of more than $1.5 million to TasNetworks to evaluate the suitability of a microgrid energy system for Tasmania’s central highlands.

The funding will facilitate the study of how a microgrid could provide reliable power to the Derwent Bridge region, as one of 20 planned studies around the country. A number of microgrid projects exist around the country, but the study plans to understand the reliability of such projects as an alternative energy source in rural and remote communities.

“Microgrids reduce reliance on diesel generation, cut emissions, and provide a secure source of electricity for households and businesses,” Tasmanian Minister for Energy Guy Barnett said.

The Derwent Bridge area has suffered issues with reliability in their energy delivery, and thus was chosen as a suitable study area.

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a local energy grid with its own control capability, meaning it can disconnect from the main grid. This can be useful to power a specific area independently during periods of error with the main grid such as power outages.

When acting independently, a microgrid relies on its own local energy generation and any stored power. This can make them especially useful in communities that generate their own renewable electricity such as solar and wind, however they can be powered with fossil fuel sources as well.

When run by an energy provider, the power is still delivered to homes as usual with the aim of providing more reliable power when disconnected from the grid. It can at times be more efficient or affordable to rely on electricity from the main grid, which is why a microgrid can act either independently or while connected to the grid.

Relying on local and stored energy in an independent grid allows for more reliable power during issues with the main grid, although the TasNetwork study will determine whether a microgrid is a viable alternative energy solution for the Derwent Bridge region.

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