Australia launches $50m fund to ramp up microgrid projects

The Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Programme (RAMPP) aims to improve the resilience and reliability of electricity supply and demonstrate solutions to the barriers faced when deploying the technology

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A new AUD$50 million (£26.6m) programme aimed at ramping up microgrid pilot projects across regional Australia has been launched.

The six-year Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Programme (RAMPP), which was initially announced in the 2020/21 Federal Budget, aims to improve the resilience and reliability of electricity supply in regional communities and demonstrate solutions to technical, regulatory or commercial barriers to the deployment of microgrid technologies.

Microgrids are small-scale electricity systems that can co-ordinate local energy resources, such as solar panels and battery storage, to provide secure and reliable electricity as well as optimise renewable energy generation and usage.

The microgird may also provide services back to the national grid or operate independently.

For remote communities, microgrids offer a pathway to switch to renewable energy, reduce emissions, costs and fuel security issues while improve reliability and security for remote communities with weak grids or those reliant on diesel generation.

RAMPP funding will be available to projects that have been proven to be viable through feasibility studies, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) expecting applications demonstrating grid-connected microgrids, standalone power systems and remote isolated microgrids.

The launch of RAMPP builds on the Australian Government’s AUD$50.4 million (£26.8m) Regional Remote Communities Reliability Fund (RRCRF), which funded feasibility studies for regional and remote communities to investigate deployment of local microgrid technologies.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Whether it’s maintaining electricity supply during and after emergencies such as bushfires and floods or improving the reliability and security of power supply in remote communities, this programme will showcase the diverse benefits microgrids offer regional Australia.

“With feasibility studies funded in every state, RRCRF is showing us that microgrids provide an exciting opportunity to integrate renewables into regional communities. ARENA is proud to be delivering this next step, funding pilot projects that demonstrate the real world potential and community benefit of microgrids.”

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