Wind-powered NBN trialled in Victoria

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The NBN has hailed its trial of wind power a success in terms of resilience and sustainability after demonstrating small turbines can help power a fixed wireless site near Geelong earlier this year.

The turbines, designed and developed by Australian university spin out Diffuse Energy, would be able to help power the temporary power units the NBN deploys when connection to the power grid is cut off, such as during a natural disaster.

Image: NBN

The NBN deploys the assets, which include its solar and diesel powered Hybrid Battery Cubes, following disasters like floods or bushfires to maintain connectivity for communities and emergency services.

The diesel and solar mean the cubes – which have been deployed around the country with government funding — can power fixed wireless facilities for six to nine months without a grid connection.

A January proof of concept near Geelong trialled the potential of adding three micro turbines to help power the assets.

“While there is still much more to do, the trial has been a success,” NBN chief engineering officer John Parkin said in a statement.

“From a sustainability perspective, we are investigating and validating new renewable energy solutions to power our network – which reduces our dependence on the grid and drives down emissions and operational costs.

“From a resilient network perspective, we have determined it is possible to use wind generation to extend the battery life of temporary assets or a site during an emergency event – supporting communities and emergency services with connectivity when they need it most.”

The wind turbines are designed and developed by startup Diffuse Energy. Its founders are University of Newcastle researchers, who spun out the company in 2018 while commercialising their work with the help of the CSIRO’s On accelerator program.

Diffuse Energy went on to secure state and federal funding and now counts several more customers in addition to the NBN.

The startup partnered with NBN supplier Decon Technologies to trial the addition of wind turbines to the Hybrid Battery Cubes.

Mr Parkin said the trial demonstrated how important Australian innovation is to solving shared sustainability challenges.

“This wind power solution has been a long time in the making and it’s exciting to be able to evaluate it in real time on our network,” he said.

The trial also holds potential for the NBN’s emissions reduction targets. It has a goal of implementing projects that reduce annual energy use by 25 GWh by December 2025, at which point it will also be purchasing 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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