Clairview & Stanage Bay microgrid feasibility study

We’re investigating innovative solutions to energise Queensland’s remote and regional communities in our Community Microgrid Feasibility Study.

The study will investigate how innovative technologies, using solar energy and battery storage integrated with smart communications devices, can improve the reliability of electricity supply to remote and regional communities at the fringe of Queensland’s electricity network.

With the support of the Australian Government, through the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund (RRCRF), the study will allow us to:

  • test different technologies
  • determine the feasibility of establishing microgrids to improve network reliability and resilience
  • identify the best solutions to energise some of Queensland’s remote and regional communities.

By advancing our ability to integrate renewable energy into our energy systems, the study will also support Queensland’s journey to net zero emissions.

Where is the study located?

The Central Queensland coastal towns of Clairview and Stanage Bay will be the focus of this exciting study. These small coastal ‘fringe of grid’ communities are located at the end of the ‘Northern’ electricity feeder, which at over 1,000 kilometres, is one of our longest powerlines.

The design of the ‘Northern’ feeder, incorporating both three-phase and Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) construction in a ‘fringe of grid’ location, makes the two communities an ideal choice for the study. The different construction designs in close proximity will allow us to explore how different microgrid technologies can be applied in different situations.

To find out more about these locations, please read our Clairview Community Profile (PDF 485.5 kb) and our Stanage Bay Community Profile (PDF 535.4 kb).

To find out more about the study please see our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Want to know more or be involved?

If you’re a Clairview or Stanage Bay community member, we want your voice as part of this study. If you’re a stakeholder, you can also keep up to date on the study through our newsletters and provide feedback.

Subscribe for updates and select ‘Community Microgrid Feasibility Study’ in the Major Project drop down list. And you can add in ‘Keep me updated’ in the Your Feedback section.

Any personal information we collect about you will only be used and disclosed by us in accordance with our Privacy Statement.

Newsletter updates

Download our newsletters and other document to find out more.

Frequently asked questions

Download a print-ready copy of the following Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 841.8 kb) for the Community Microgrid Feasibility Study.

About the project

Why is the project needed?

We want to investigate alternate technologies, incorporating solar energy and battery storage to improve network performance, reliability, and resilience for ‘fringe of grid’ communities.

These communities, located at the edges of the electricity network, can experience more frequent and longer  outages due to the length of the powerlines, several environmental factors, as well as the disadvantage of distance when responding to unplanned outages.

Many of our fringe of grid lines were designed in the 1960’s and 1980’s to serve the small communities of that time. While they continue to serve these communities well, electricity needs have changed over time. We are increasingly reliant on electricity in every facet of our lives, and  in recent years, the take up of renewable energy has grown.

These factors all need to be considered by our network planners when designing the right solutions for each community’s electricity needs.

Before we start making changes to how we operate the network, we want to make sure we have the right solutions. By understanding the community’s electricity needs, how much, and when it is needed, we can design and test the most efficient network solution.

Because building electricity networks is expensive, and the assets are in place for a long time, we want to get it right and the Community Microgrid Feasibility Study will provide us with that opportunity.

What is involved in the study?

The Community Microgrid Feasibility Study will investigate opportunities to improve the reliability and quality of power supply at Clairview and Stanage Bay for both the three-phase and SWER networks.

The aim of the study is to determine how a microgrid could automate seamless switching between the grid and island mode when needed, using smart grid controls and local distributed energy resources, to ensure a reliable energy supply. It will also explore the benefits of using the local energy resources for grid support in times of need while grid connected.

Diesel generation is used in some areas to support our networks in our remote communities. This project will investigate how distributed renewable energy technologies, such as roof top solar and battery storage can:

  • improve reliability of supply to these communities
  • offer an alternative to costly network expansion
  • improve environmental outcomes by limiting the use of diesel generation.

The project will involve several elements, delivered in six stages.

Stage 1 – Network Desktop Study
We will conduct a series of technical studies to analyse the existing network and electricity supply to these two communities and research available information from established network microgrids. We will look at new technologies being used around the world and consider their suitability on our remote ends of the network.

Stage 2 – Council, Community and Customer Engagement
Our community engagement will involve a range of activities including sitting down with Councils and the community to explain the project, introducing some energy literacy education, and working together on some of the options for the project. We’ll also provide project updates and publish the final study findings.

Stage 3 – Customer Energy Use Study
In this stage, we will get to know the Clairview and Stanage Bay communities and their energy needs in more depth. We will install new digital metering, conduct energy audits and conduct a land assessment to identify a list of potential sites suitable for establishing a microgrid close to the network.

Stage 4 – Microgrid Technical Analysis
This stage will involve a range of technical assessments focussing on how a microgrid would interact with the electricity network. We will look at the fundamentals for intelligent microgrid operations including control and communications, safety and protection, and ways to ensure stability in the system and obtain dynamic operational response.

Stage 5 – MIST Laboratory Prototype and Testing
This exciting stage involves creating microgrid prototypes in the MIST lab and simulating how these systems would operate. The team in the MIST will develop and run an extensive range of tests to see how the microgrids would operate and respond in a range of ‘real life’ scenarios.

Stage 6 – Community Microgrid Feasibility Study
This stage involves compiling all of the information that we have learned through the microgrid feasibility study and compiling a report outlining the findings. The report will explain feasible microgrid options and include a deployment plan for decision makers.

When is the project going to start and how long will it take?

The project commenced in late 2021 when we secured funding and established a small project team. The study will be completed by mid 2024 and will be delivered in six stages as follows:

  1. Desktop study – Nov 2021 to Sep 2022
  2. Community engagement – Mar 2022 to Jun 2024
  3. Customer energy use study – Mar 2022 to Mar 2024
  4. Microgrid analysis – Sep 2022 to Mar 2024
  5. MIST laboratory testing – Sep 2022 to May 2024
  6. Feasibility study – Feb 2024 to Jun 2024.

See our Community Microgrid Project Timeline

What are the objectives of the study?

The objectives of the Community Microgrid Feasibility Study include:

  • Determine the technical and financial feasibility of installing microgrids at the communities of Clairview and Stanage Bay and use the lessons learnt for other fringe of grid locations
  • Understand customers’ energy needs and their interest and willingness to be involved in a future microgrid solution
  • Develop business intelligence to include microgrids as a feasible option for addressing network constraints such as reliability, power quality or capacity, as an alternative to expensive network expansions.

How will this study support the take up of renewables and the transition to net zero emissions?

This study will make a vital contribution towards the Queensland Government’s 50% renewable energy target, and the state’s journey to net zero emissions by advancing our knowledge on the integration of renewable energy into our energy systems. It will also support the evolution of ‘renewable energy’ microgrids to improve the performance of the network.

Queenslanders are putting solar on homes and businesses at record rates, with almost 40% of detached houses, and over 10% of businesses across Queensland, now with rooftop solar energy – that’s well over a million rooftops!

We expect Queenslanders to double the amount of solar connected to the electricity network by 2030. We support the transition to renewable sources of energy and this study is one of many initiatives we have underway to get the network ready for this expected increase.

Why have Clairview and Stanage Bay been selected for the study?

The small coastal towns of Clairview and Stanage Bay are ‘fringe of grid’ communities located at the end of one of Queensland’s longest powerlines, measuring over 1,000 kilometres in length.

The communities have many similarities including location and size, and they are connected to the same feeder powerline. However, the design of infrastructure supplying the two towns is very different.

The electricity network here is unique in that Clairview is supplied by the three-phase network, and Stanage Bay by a Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) construction.

This different network design combination in a fringe of grid location makes these communities ideal for our study, as it will highlight the similarities and differences in using microgrids integrated with the different network construction.

What is the MIST?

The Microgrid and Isolated Systems Test (MIST) facility is an energy laboratory, located in Cairns, where we can research new energy technologies before introducing them to the network. The MIST allows us to accelerate the integration of new technology into the electricity network.

The MIST boasts a super-computer for real time digital simulation, as well as a large array of connection options, allowing complex testing of technology in simulated conditions.

This will allow us to identify the most feasible microgrid technology to power our remote communities, saving time and money, as well as giving us confidence that the network solutions we use are fit for purpose for our fringe of grid communities.

Fringe of grid

What does ‘fringe of grid’ mean?

Fringe of grid is a term that refers to parts of the electricity network that are geographically remote, located at the end of the network, often away from power generation sources and population centres.

These sections of the network have long powerlines, and are located in rural and remote areas with very few customers per kilometre.

These long powerlines may experience quality of power supply and reliability issues, and transmission losses given their distance from the generation source.

Why is Ergon considering alternate network solutions for fringe of grid communities?

Energising communities across vast distances and in isolated locations across Queensland can be a challenge. Traditionally, the most reliable and cost-effective method of getting power to many of these regional and remote communities has been via Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) powerlines.

Our network has around 65,000 kilometres of SWER lines. It's one of the largest SWER networks in the world and supplies only 4% of our customers. The majority of the SWER network was installed in the 1970s and 1980s.

As these sections of the network age, we’re looking for more modern, innovative solutions, like microgrids, to ensure our rural and remote customers continue to have access to safe, secure, affordable, reliable, and efficient power supply into the future.

Microgrids

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a small-scale electricity network powered by one or many distributed energy resources. They are increasingly intelligent energy systems designed to be self-sufficient and to power the electricity needs of an isolated group of customers. They can be operated either stand alone or connected to the main electricity grid.

While the technology in a microgrid can support the main electricity grid, a key benefit of the system being explored in this study, is that it could be disconnected from the main grid and operate autonomously in ‘island mode’, supplied by  energy sources like solar and battery storage.

This would allow any future microgrid to operate autonomously when power supply from the main grid is disrupted or unavailable.

See our Community Microgrid Graphic

Are you building a microgrid in our community?

Not yet. This is a study using our Microgrid and Isolated Systems Test (MIST) facility to research and test different microgrid technologies in a controlled environment. We’ll use computer software to run complex scenarios and test how the equipment might operate on the network under specific a range of different conditions.

Because building electricity networks is expensive and the assets are in place for a long time, we want to get it right before we commit to making any changes to the network.

The Community Microgrid Feasibility Study will provide us with the information we need to make informed decisions about the future of the network in the area.

If Ergon eventually builds a microgrid, will our community be disconnected from the network?

While one of the key benefits of a microgrid is its ability to operate independent of the main electricity grid, the study will focus on a system that remains connected to the network on a normal daily basis, but has the flexibility to be separated from the state-wide grid and operate in ‘island mode’ from time-to-time when needed.

Our community engagement goal

We aim to provide the community with balanced and objective information to help in understanding the need for this project, our delivery approach and how it may affect people.

Our promise

We'll keep the local community informed, and we’ll acknowledge and consider any feedback.

We'll provide information in different ways including:

  • project newsletters to directly affected customers and all who register for updates
  • posting information on social media
  • posting information on this website.

Project information and contact details

For more information or to provide us feedback, please contact the project team:

Email: NetworkProjectEngagement@energyq.com.au

Phone: 1300 653 055