In the lead up to the 3rd annual Remote Area Power Supply Conference, we invited Sid Masilamani, Business Unit Manager – Microgrids, from Energy Made Clean, to share some insights from his presentation at the forthcoming event, later event this month in Melbourne.
Sid’s presentation will focus on EMC’s Mackerel Island and Meta Maya Stand Alone Power Systems and he joined us recently for this Q&A.
You recently joined Energy Made Clean (EMC) as the Business Unit Manager for Microgrids, could you tell us about EMC, your role, and key projects?
Yes, I recently changed roles from ABB Global Microgrids group to EMC after many years with ABB. What I saw in EMC was a vibrant and dynamic team aspiring to be the best in integration technologies needed to make Microgrid a reality here in Australia with the leadership of John Davidson (CEO of EMC) who has a pragmatic approach to business. It was great to see an Australian company with the potential to be world’s best. It’s a pleasure to see the team being motivated and willing to invest in the future which is rare during these difficult economic times. I joined EMC to head up their Microgrids business and my goal was to develop EMC into the top 3 reputable integrators of solar/battery systems. EMC had already a broad range of experience from the smaller 5kVA stand-alone systems with Li-Ion technology to larger 350kW stand-alone systems that delivered very high renewable fraction with Maceral Island project. Recently EMC has completed grid connection for the Alkimos BESS (500kVA/1.2MWh) and well advanced in building the CSIRO 1.7MWp solar plant. EMC has also in the process of constructing the 1.25MVA/2.6MWh ESS for the same project. EMC has also been successful in supporting Horizon Power in their efforts to recover from the bushfires at Esperance providing them with residential stand-alone systems (PODs) to rapidly restore power at the best value for money compared to poles and wires restoration. EMC is on an exciting pathway to create bigger and better references in Australia and NZ.
As a power system provider, could you tell us what are the common challenges that need to be addressed to deliver and maintain an effective/successful off-grid solar/battery PV project?
Typically the projects that have the potential to undertake solar integration are brownfield projects. As such the first challenge is to understand the exact implementation strategy, hardware, connections and integration burden.
Once this is understood the next main challenge is the viability of the integration and economics of the project. Fuel costs and connection costs are primary drivers.
EMC has many years of performing feasibility studies for their clients and the pillars of our reputation rests on EMCs track record to deliver the best scenarios to their clients. EMC being a technology agnostic organisation provide a practical solution to deliver the best economic delivery of the project. There has been many examples of projects failing after lengthy consultation process and financing roadblocks. EMC having the ability to provide a full range of value add (such as Independent Power Provider [IPP]) is able to find the least path of resistance for a successful project beginning.
Finally the technology, working with the best battery, inverter and communication OEMs is paramount to EMCs pathway forward. EMCs current technology development platforms to OEMs not only to expand their functionality to meet Australian requirements but also provide a testing regime to give comfort for Australian clients in implementing new technology.
EMC work in partnership with a range of stakeholders, in your experience what are the key factors influencing successful partnerships?
Simplicity is key to successful partnerships. Whether we are dealing with a OEMs or Clients, having a common understanding and a common goal is key to success. Too often reliance of Contract Terms determine relationships and EMC is always sensitive to this fact.
Next is consistency in dealings. All relationships are influenced by expectation and reputation. EMC is proud to have a great relationship with our partners through our reputation to deliver.
Common goals, this is another important aspect of a good partnership. It not uncommon to have conflicting goals in a competitive landscape however once you find you partner who has common goals, it’s even more challenging to maintain the “marriage”.
There is a growing awareness of the environmental and economic viability of renewable energy solutions, particularly in remote areas that are not connected to the grid. In your view, what is the potential for hybrid solar systems and microgrids over the next 5 years?
Off-Grid solutions and more recently Microgrids have a great potential to change the electrical landscape in Australia. Australia is a vast country with scattered population and industries. Grid connection and the quality of supply provided by the grid is a luxury often undervalued in the cities. Technology development by EMC is aimed at closing the gap between power quality in remote areas using DC Power (batteries and Solar). Together with DC power, the advancement of communication has enabled Microgrid solutions. What was not possible with data bandwidth in the past is being solved by faster real time control and communication between protection and control devices. The revolution in the communication industry is a view to the progress of Microgrid solution going forward. EMC is well positioned to tackle these challenges and are nimble enough to change with the fast technology development.
The Remote Area Power Supply Conference was launched in 2013 and we have been pleased to welcome your involvement ever since, could you share some insights about the forum? Which areas and topics are you looking forward to discussing at the 3rd annual Remote Area Power Supply Conference?
” I’m pleased to be involved with this conference since its inception. This conference has always aimed be a close collaboration between Government, Contractors, OEMs and End Users. It has been a great forum to discuss challenges faced each year to developing remote power and enabling steps to make projects come to life. This year, I would like to see the outcomes of all the hard work by the Microgrid community and see some big projects come to reality in 2016. It’s a very exciting time for Microgrid “nerds” like myself to share knowledge and learn how to simplify the offering to the market.”
The conference is being held on the 22nd and 23rd March at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne, and EMC are the Satchel Sponsors for the event. Don’t miss Sid’s presentation and see more details about the full speaker faculty and conference program at www.informa.com.au/raps