A MICROGRID is being installed on the roof of Birchip Cropping Group. The $319,000 solar panel microgrid will cover the entirety of the roof at the group’s laboratory in Birchip.
A microgrid is a small network of electricity users with a local supply of power that can function independently of the electricity grid.
BCG received $210,00 from the state government in October to help develop the project.
The group plans to hold demonstrations once the project is complete to show farmers how to set up microgrids at their properties.
Chief executive Chris Sounness said solar panels had been installed by Wades of Horsham.
“It’s good that local businesses have been able to get involved. That was one of the things that excited us about the project – that it was about building up local capability,” he said.
“Then early in the new year the batteries will come in and we’ll have the microgrid available for demonstration. We’re hoping to come online shortly.”
Mr Sounness said benefits of the microgrid were multi-faceted.
“There will be that business benefit to save money and lower our energy costs, but this opportunity to demonstrate this technology to the community is fantastic,” he said.
“The demonstrations will help the farmers figure out whether it will stack up for them, and understand how it does work. For a lot of farmers, this could be the first time that they have thought about ways to harvest energy as a business.
“Obviously big-scale energy farms like Murra Warra Wind Farm are one way of looking at it, but there are definitely opportunities for those smaller-scale enterprises.”
The project will be led by SwitchDin to provide a working demonstration of microgrid technology. SwitchDin will work with BCG and Walnut Energy Systems to deliver the $319,000 project.
The microgrid will be optimised for solar (51 kW) and battery (137 kWh) energy self-consumption. It will be capable of keeping power on in the event of a grid outage.