The effect of individual and communal electricity generation, consumption and storage on urban Community Renewable Energy Networks (CREN): an Australian case study

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Elizabeth Tomc
Anthony M Vassallo

Abstract

Community Renewable Energy Networks (CREN), in which households and businesses in a local community share energy resources, are an attractive platform for optimising renewable energy use and reducing dependence on the wider electricity grid. However, the optimal use local power generation and energy storage is critically dependent on the load characteristics and location of the community. In this work we compare the simulated energy generation, consumption and independence of two model developments in Melbourne and Sydney.  The analysis looked at 6 basic scenarios, from the default grid dependence through to a community approach with both individual and communal PV generation and battery energy storage. The results showed that a combination of household and community owned PV and storage can reduce grid electricity import by up to 93% for Melbourne and 96% for Sydney, but that neither development could independently meet all its power requirements without shortfall. The shortfall arises during the winter months when PV generation is at its lowest, and no practical amount of energy storage can mitigate this.  Interestingly, Melbourne, which is at a higher latitude than Sydney and receives less solar insolation, achieves more months of grid independence than Sydney

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