Solar Apartments and Microgrid Models

Researchers at CEEM have developed two open source models: 

  1. Solar Apartments model
  2. Community Microgrid model

Solar Apartments model

This can be used to model the electrical and financial flows in apartment buildings with PV (and batteries) installed behind the meter or distributed through embedded networks. 

Multi-occupancy buildings currently lag far behind the rest of the residential sector for deployment of PV and batteries. This represents a significant unexploited opportunity for developers as well as for strata bodies of existing buildings, particularly for the low-rise buildings (housing 60% of apartments) where potential rooftop generation likely exceeds common property demand. Where these buildings are also located on feeders with commercial loads, increased PV deployment may also reduce network congestion. Arrangements which apply generation to aggregated building loads can maximise self-consumption, increase financial benefits for consumers  and may reduce network constraints, but are rarely implemented because of regulatory and financial barriers. This model will help strata bodies, embedded network operators and other stakeholders to identify optimal organisational arrangements and financial settings to incentivise all owners and residents and thereby increase deployment.

Community Microgrid model

This can be used to model the electrical and financial flows for a microgrid with behind the meter PV and a centralised battery.

High penetration of distributed PV and battery storage systems is currently an area of focus for governments, regulators, networks, technology providers and consumer groups, with many trials being undertaken throughout Australia. These trials focus very much on the technical impacts, with relatively little attention being paid to the financial impacts on the different stakeholders involved. Currently, when a customer exports PV electricity to its neighbours on the distribution network, the full distribution use of system (DUOS) charges are paid. Altered tariffs with reduced DUOS would increase the financial viability of PV but have unknown impacts on the networks and hence on other customers. Exported PV electricity may also be able to be on-sold at a lower tariff than retail electricity, reducing costs for customers that don’t have PV, thus also helping retailers with customer acquisition. The coordinated use of PV and batteries can also help to develop sections of the network with greater independence and hence reliability, but the relative sizes of PV, batteries and loads need to be optimised. 

This work has been supported by the UNSW CRC for Low Carbon Living and Energy Consumers Australia.

Download the User Interface and Models!

The User Interface and Models are currently implemented as beta versions. They can be obtained from this linkMake sure you select the most recent version (it will be at the top of the page). Once you’ve selected the correct link (depending on whether you have Mac or PC), just download the file. Instructions for download and use of the models can be found here.

We are always wanting to improve the models, so if you have any feedback please email any comments and bugs here.

UNSW Research Project Team:

Luke Marshall

Naomi Stringer

Mike Roberts

Robert Passey

Anna Bruce

Iain MacGill 


Title & place of publication Author Research area Type Links Year
'Electricity produced from photovoltaic systems in apartment buildings and self consumption: Comparison of the situation in various IEA PVPS countries', 46th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 46). Chicago Jäger-Waldau, A, Adinolfi, G; Batlle, A; Braun, M; Bucher, C; Detollenaere, A; Frederiksen, KHB; Graditi, G; Lemus, RG; Lindahl, J; Heilscher, G; Kraiczy, M; Masson, G; Mather, B; Mayr, C; Moneta, D; Mugnier, D; Nikoletatos, J; Neubourg, G; Platt G, Roberts, M Energy Efficiency & Distributed Generation Conference Papers 2019


Event Presenter Type Research area Location Date
Workshop on Community Microgrid and Solar Apartments Models Iain MacGill , Rob Passey , Mike Roberts Workshop Energy Efficiency & Distributed Generation Rydges Hotel, Sydney Thursday, May 30, 2019