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Economic optimisation of typical electrical microgrids in Western Australian industrial zones

Watkins, Joshua Lee (2018) Economic optimisation of typical electrical microgrids in Western Australian industrial zones. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The objective of this thesis is to examine the microgrid concept as a viable economic alternative to the centralised electrical network in Western Australia when applied to industrial loads. The key focus was on formulating an economic optimisation model as it is applied specifically to new Western Australian industrial developments. The Nambeelup Industrial Area, located approximately 9 km northeast of the city of Mandurah, is the electrical and thermal load considered for this task. Analysis was conducted to determine a range of technically viable microgrid configurations that display economically superior characteristics when compared to the benchmark. This benchmark is a proposed $31.1M infrastructure upgrade to supply the Nambeelup Industrial Area through the Meadow Springs Substation which is part of the South West Interconnected System. Using HOMER1 software and the acquired industry data, a range of distributed energy resources (DER), energy storage systems, thermal recovery systems and varying states of grid connection were modelled over a 25-year project life.

The studies show that the initial capital expenses of proposed microgrids were often many times the benchmark cost but had a decidedly lower project net present cost. Specifically, results revealed that increased DER penetration correlated with an average discounted savings of $350M over the project lifetime, which lead to an average payback period of less than three years when compared to the benchmark. Economically optimised architectures often featured combined heat and power (CHP) equipped gas-fired combustion generation with large-scale wind turbines. A final set of architectures were proposed based on their respective optimisation variables with a main featured configuration of a single 32 MVA CHP equipped gas turbine, an 18.15 MW wind farm and a 60 MWh vanadium redox flow battery bank installation. The featured system provides a more reliable and environmentally superior thermal and electrical energy source at a total net present cost of $411.6M which equates to a $47.97M per year project savings compared to the benchmark. Across the modelled topologies an average CO2 emissions improvement was observed of over 500 tonnes per year per every dollar invested. To financially quantify the environmental improvement brought about by this, a carbon tax was introduced to the optimisation model which shows that high DER penetration carries an economic benefit of over $2M per year due to decreased emissions. The economic and environmental findings underpin the microgrid concept as an advisable energy generation and distribution option for large-scale industrial and commercial energy requirements in Western Australia.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Arefi, Ali
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