The Liberal National Government has launched a $50 million program to help regional and remote communities access cheaper and more reliable power through microgrids.
The first round of the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund is now open to applications from across Australia. Up to $20 million of grants will be awarded to feasibility studies in this first round.
Microgrids are stand-alone power systems that can operate independently or maintain a connection to the grid. They are made up of distributed energy resources such as solar photovoltaics and batteries.
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien, said the grants will fund community organisations, electricity distribution businesses and other interested entities across Wide Bay to undertake feasibility studies.
"Microgrid technology is becoming increasingly cost effective, creating the opportunity for a reliable, low cost, off-grid supply. This is especially useful for customers in remote locations, on the finge-of-grid, reducing the need for expensive poles and wires," Mr O'Brien said.
"Moving grid-supplied remote customers to microgrid supply could save hundreds of millions of dollars in costly network maintenance while improving reliability".
Feasibility studies are the first step to unlocking investment in microgrids, and their benefits for individual communities and the grid as a whole. Where feasibility studies find that microgrids are economically viable, additional support can be sought from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
Round one applications close on 21 November 2019. Details on how to submit an application can be found at: [https://www.grants.gov.au/]