Exploring the viability of off-grid generation

As technology continues to develop, many of the practices businesses rely on can quickly change, no matter how essential they seem to be to everyday operation.

Even the way the country's organisations receive energy is subject to change. While most will be used to grid electricity and nothing more, there are a number of ways to enhance energy efficiency with new technological developments. 

Off-grid installations such as microturbines provide businesses with a way to reduce carbon emissions and provide valuable backup for situations where the grid may be offline. However, although many businesses are familiar with the use of these devices in supporting or back up power roles, how many have thought about leaving the grid behind altogether?

Australia's remote landscape is perfect for off-grid power generation.Australia's remote landscape is perfect for off-grid power generation.

Why leave the grid behind?

While Australia's existing grid infrastructure support's much of the major metropolitan and semi-rural areas of the country, there are situations, mainly in the mining industry, where a project may exist may well outside the grid's reach. 

On top this, sustainability concerns are also defining the way businesses operate, and many may find cost and emissions reductions by employing a combination of microturbines and solar panels, or a microturbine alone, to create an independent electrical supply. 

The Alternative Technology Association investigated the viability of these installations, finding that they are likely to be a popular option in 2020, and will depend on natural gas as a supporting fuel. Capstone microturbines not only operate cleanly and efficiently on natural gas, they a remain flexible and responsive form of energy generation meaning businesses would do well to consider their role in the future of energy generation.

Will off-grid technology reach Australian cities?

Organisations aren't the only entities that could create value by leaving the grid behind, as a plan the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supports suggests the future of residential electricity is not tied to the grid. 

A new development could see 7,500 homes supporting off the grid.

According to ARENA, there are plans to construct a new town in the Hunter Valley in NSW that will be able to survive off the grid. It's no small development either, with the organisation reporting that the development will exceed 7,000 homes. 

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht believes the project will be a valuable test for renewable energy and its supporting technologies. 

"If this latest work shows renewables, battery storage and enabling technologies can reliably and cost effectively power new suburbs, it could set a precedent for residential developments and potentially accelerate the uptake of renewables in Australia," he said. 

With the United Nations finding that the world's cities account for between 60 and 80 per cent of energy use, despite only taking up 3 per cent of available land, there's plenty of room for developments such as this to reduce carbon emissions nationwide. 

To find out more about how microturbines can support off-grid developments, contact the team at Optimal Group. 

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