People living in multi-tenanted apartment blocks in Victoria will soon be able to exercise choice and control over how they access and use solar and battery power as part of a trial from new solar and battery solutions company, Ovida.
The Victorian government has announced a $980,000 grant towards the Ovida Community Energy Hub project, as part of the Labor Government’s statewide Microgrid Demonstration Initiative.
The $2 million Ovida project will install shared solar PV and battery systems in three buildings in Melbourne to help cut energy costs for tenants.
The initiative will benefit approximately 650 customers, generate 5000 kWh of solar energy and support 11,000 kWh of energy storage.
A microgrid is a small network of electricity users with a local supply of power that can function independently of the electricity grid, delivering energy security, sustainability and cost savings for those in the network.
A microgrid generally operates while connected to the grid, but importantly, it can break off and operate on its own using local energy generation in times of crisis like storms or power outages. Microgrids can also share excess energy produced back into the network for other users.
In an Australian first, the trial will utilise smart technology to enable people who were not previously able to benefit from solar energy, such as renters, low income earners, and other people living in multi-tenanted apartment blocks, to access solar power in their home.
“Traditionally solar arrangements in multi-tenanted apartment blocks have been all or nothing – meaning all residents had to invest in and use the system for it to work,” said Ovida spokesperson, Paul Adams.
“We know this can be a challenge because apartment blocks often include long-term residents, owners, and short-term occupants who each have different energy needs and expectations.
“In particular, we are unlocking solar power for renters and tenants which, to date, have been undeservedly locked out of microgrid and renewable technology. Thanks to this initiative, they now also have an opportunity to experience solar generated power; a market traditionally dominated by owner-occupiers.
“This trial also tackles energy affordability head-on. By providing the panels, battery and infrastructure free of charge to customers so there are no up-front costs.
“This removes inequality in the market place and by trialling the microgrid technology, we can explore how companies can viably supply such solutions – again, with no financial commitment required from homeowners,” Mr Adams said.
Ovida will work with experienced consortium partners including Allume Energy, Moreland Energy Foundation Limited, Jemena and RMIT University to deliver the project which will deliver affordable, dispatchable and reliable energy for occupants of apartment and commercial buildings.
The trial will provide “behind-the-grid” technology, including solar panels, batteries, cloudbased software, and communications channels, to enable a single solar system to connect with multiple customers.
Community microgrids will be trialled across residential, commercial and mixed-use dwellings in Melbourne’s north, which typically house 10 to 50 renters and/or tenants.
“The solar power generated by the smart microgrid is designed to always be cheaper than the network supply, so the greater the amount of solar energy used by the resident, the lower their bills.
Solar power for strata apartments could be a reality soon.