Energy crises are not unusual for developing countries. But when a developed country faces power outages due to a crisis leading them to look for alternatives to resolution, we can safely assume that conventional sources of energy have failed in being sustainable. This paves the path for consumers to go off the grid.
Besides, the rising public awareness about climate change and limits of non-renewable resources have led them to look for solutions to gain control over power generation while reducing environmental impact. Some of them have shifted to solar power systems and some others are supporting the push to move away from centralised power grids on a greater scale.
Energy distribution networks have been facing the issue of transporting energy from the source to the consumer due to a steady rise in the cost of distribution. A possible solution to this would be to generate and store power locally in microgrids which can generate power from consumers and operate to support varying load demands. The shift to renewable energy will ensure that consumers will have solar power plants in their own households.
It has been a challenge to supply power to consumers living in remote areas or places distant from power grids. Power outages in such areas are more frequent and the process of supplying is also cumbersome. It hardly makes sense anymore to rely on power grids when the prices of renewable energy and associated storage grids have fallen below conventional grids.
Companies running power grids have observed this trend and are following the needs of consumers to make decisions on power autonomy. One of the leading power companies in Western Australia, Horizon Power has already started this movement by using microgrids to provide power to energy deficit areas in Pilbara. Their Onslow system hosts the largest microgrid in Australia and they intend to produce more than half of their output from renewable sources.
Similarly, in the state of Victoria, AusNet Services is running a trial for a city-based microgrid in Mooroolbark by powering 17 households using solar panels with storage batteries of 10 kWh capacity, combined with access to a conventional grid. Though they can run on the grid, the microgrid can also run as a sole power system, sharing power among those households.
In this off the grid system, the microgrid can run without depending on the main grid by the help of a stabilizer, which is a smart battery storage system that evens out variations in power supply and consumption across the microgrid. A typical stabilizer is used by a microgrid to ensure stability with the help of a diesel generator whereas the stabilizer used by AusNet switches between renewable and stored energy.
Several such innovations are on the way, for example, a company called LO3 Energy is developing its own cryptocurrency to encourage peer-to-peer trade of renewable energy through consumers. Surpassing initial stages, Australia is moving rapidly towards energy independence and will soon be the global leader in off-grid power.