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Microgrids

New and improving technologies such as solar, wind, wave and most importantly batteries are changing the way we traditionally think about the delivery and storage of electricity. One of these developments is the microgrid, which is essentially a small scale power grid that can operate independently (in ‘island mode’) or connect with the main electrical grid – think of a small suburb, or estate, that shares electricity and the cost of the infrastructure.

A microgrid needs to control the flow of electricity of low or medium voltage (like a traditional distribution system) but does not need connection to a centralised generation or transmission network. It can run a number of different energy sources and store power to ensure even distribution. Examples would be household solar and small scale wind.

It’s important to note the difference between a microgrid and a stand-alone power system (SPS)  which is low voltage only and typically services just one building (less than 50kW). When people talk about ‘going off grid’ they are more likely talking about a SPS with a single power source and battery capability.

Western Power has trialled the world’s first microgrid project that combines wave energy, solar (photovoltaic) energy, a desalination plant, and energy storage that connects to our large electricity network.

Two further microgrids are in development by Western Power in remote towns north of Perth. For more information please refer to the project pages for the Kalbarri Microgrid and Perenjori Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) trial.