Australia’s largest connected urban micro-grid has been officially launched with a new rooftop solar powered system at an Ikea store in Adelaide. It already supplies more than 70% of the store’s energy needs and provides grid support for the South Australian grid.
Ikea’s microgrid includes a 1.2MW rooftop solar system installed in the furniture retailer’s sprawling Adelaide store, and a 3MW/3.45MWh battery energy storage system supported by Planet Ark Power’s eleXsys energy management system for surplus export.
Designed and built by Planet Ark Power, the A$6.6 million ($4.3 million) solar and storage microgrid is owned and operated by South Australia-headquartered energy infrastructure company Epic Energy. Epic Energy CEO Clive D’Cruz said the system would not only power the Ikea Adelaide store, but would also support South Australia’s electricity grid with a battery that would allow the operator to transfer solar energy.
D’Cruz said excess clean energy stored in the microgrid’s battery can be traded on the National Electricity Market (NEM) during periods of peak demand, supporting grid stability and reliability by participating in the Frequency Control Associated Services (FCAS) market.
“Investing in Australia’s first urban micro-grid will support our sales partner Ikea to meet its climate-friendly targets while benefiting the local community by supporting grid stability,” he said.
Jonathan Ruddick, CFO of Planet Ark Power, said the integration of the company’s eleXsys technology has transformed the Ikea store into an “unrestricted, grid-connected commercial microgrid.”
“A microgrid will not only maximize clean energy production in SA, but also avoid costly grid upgrades and provide grid support to the state’s power grid, benefiting the wider South Australian community,” he said. “The use of ElXsys technology means that up to 10 times more energy can be connected than solar technology and grid constraints currently allow.”
Ruddick said the ability to actively sell renewable energy into South Australia’s electricity grid also offers a riskier return on investment for microgrid owners.
South Australia has one of the highest penetrations of rooftop solar in the world, which together with wind power regularly meets 100% of the state’s energy needs, but Department of Energy and Mines director of major projects Scott Oster said he was hopeful the project would inspire. other major retailers to participate in the state’s energy transition.
“The South Australian Government is excited to see this project demonstrate how smart technology means we can receive more rooftop solar in ways that really help the stability of our grid,” he said. “This is another critical step in South Australia’s delivery of the smart energy grid of the future. It’s innovative solutions and forward thinking like this that are vital as we approach our goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030.”
For Ikea, the microgrid supports the company’s goal of using 100% renewable energy in the Adelaide store by 2025.