Mobile Renewable Energy Systems for emergency services

A recent joint project between GridEdge, Earthworker Energy and DEECA was to build 3 prototype portable renewable energy systems to supply renewable power for replacement of large diesel generators in emergency response settings supporting DELWP, CFA and SES

The prototypes were;

– 58 kWh battery energy storage, 20 kVA inverter capacity, single phase and 15 kW PV in a custom-built shell on skids similar to current diesel generators

– 20 kWh battery energy storage, 5 kVA inverter capacity and 1.5 kW PV in a portable Trailer

– A portable site hut with built-in 9.6 kWh battery, 5 kVA inverter capacity and 5 kVA PV generation capacity

These prototypes are specifically designed to respond to the problems identified during the Bushfire Royal Commission, and from what was learnt about grid failures in other emergency situations.

The 3 prototypes will provide low carbon options for emergency response agencies whilst demonstrating safe, quiet and zero emissions for emergency response staff and volunteers to be piloted in base camps.

The systems will provide a safe, efficient and effective means of providing power during emergencies, facilitating evacuations, providing safe and comfortable refuge facilities, maintaining vital telecommunications links, or helping to maintain services such as fuel supply and banking.

The project uses safe, non-flammable SoNick battery technology, which is suitable for an emergency application where there may be heat or flames present. The SoNick battery technology is the only chemistry UL9540A certified for safety from thermal runaway. This means no risk of fire or explosion, even in the presence of external fire, so it is very suitable for bushfire environments.

Supply of power in emergency situations has to date been provided using diesel generators that are loud, noisy and create a significant quantity of greenhouse gasses. Noise and fumes from the generators are the biggest cause of complaints by emergency workers, businesses and residents who are already in an intense, stressful environment.

Fire Response agencies such as DELWP, PV, CFA, SES, and local councils can use the emergency energy containers during emergency response when base camps/staging areas are used. With many workers in tents on football ovals, diesel generators have a detrimental impact on health because of their noise and fumes. Sleep is important to the ability of emergency workers to make clear and purposeful decisions, which is critical during fire or other emergency response situations.

The Emergency Energy container is designed to replace the smaller generators on the ovals that are closest to the workers, eliminating the noise and diesel fumes, making a safer and more comfortable place to rest and work. In time the system can be scaled up to cover all energy usage during the night time, with the ability of the batteries to be charged up during the day with solar and diesel generation. The goal is to have a quiet camp at night, so staff can get proper rest.

The renewable energy y trailer can be moved around the site to provide power where it is most needed.

The Atco portable hut can be used as a n office or first aid building for staff working on the site.

The portable energy systems will provide a renewable energy battery storage system that can be stored at local facilities, such as DEECA depots, fire stations or council offices, to be delivered to emergency situations as required. They will minimise the use of diesel generators, reducing emissions and the quantity of diesel needed to be provided to site, reducing the risk posed by flammable fuels. DEECA reports that diesel generators used in base camps can use tens of thousands of dollars of diesel fuel over the course of one or two weeks. The short-, medium- and long-term cost savings to public emergency authorities from the portable renewable energy systems are very substantial, while the systems will enable authorities to meet public sector emission reduction targets.

In addition, the containers can be located in towns on a permanent basis, enhancing disaster preparedness and resilience. In this scenario the energy storage and PV could be used outside emergency situations to increase local renewable energy supply and storage, including to replace diesel generators where they are currently used. As solar panels can be installed on containers (and wind or bioenergy sources can be added as optional extras) the emergency container power can be replenished using renewable energy to increase time that emergency power can be provided.

In addition, if emergency systems are permanently located in community buildings, or are permanently available to communities to use outside times of emergency, they will provide portable renewable energy generation and storage capacity for those community facilities, or for community events, saving money, reducing emissions, and providing a demonstration of the potential of such systems for wider use.

The renewable energy systems can also be deployed outside of emergency situations to generate and store energy for community or business use, helping to provide energy security for remote communities and reduce energy costs. Integrated into long-term community energy management plans, as well as disaster management plans, the systems can play an important role in helping to decarbonise rural and regional communities.

All 3 renewable energy prototypes are customisable and can have battery, solar and inverter capacity adjusted to fit situational needs.

The container solution can also be used to provide renewable power to businesses without the need to actually attach them to a building. This is particularly useful to buildings that are rented.

The containers are also a perfect solution for community batteries which are becoming more popular in many towns.

Portable Container Powered by Renewables

Installed PV – 10 kW
Installed battery storage – 58 kWh
Useable battery storage – 46 kWh
Installed inverter capacity – 20 kVA
3 phase

The container had the 6 batteries on the floor, securely attached to racking that was bolted to the floor, to keep the centre of gravity low and make the container easier to transport. If extra battery capacity is needed in the future or for future containers there is room for more batteries on the floor or a second or third layer of batteries can be added.

The container also has space for a generator if the solar isn’t enough to recharge the batteries.

The 5 KW solar on the roof is in a hydraulically powered foldout array that folds down to make transport easy.

Renewable Energy Powered Portable Atco Hut

Installed PV – 5 kW
Installed battery storage – 10 kWh
Useable battery storage – 8 kWh
Installed inverter capacity – 5 kVA

The Atco hut has one SoNick battery in a cupboard. As the battery is non-flammable and doesn’t give off any fumes there is no issues with having it inside the hut in a cupboard.

Renewable Energy Trailer

Installed PV – 2.5 kW
Installed battery storage – 20 kWh
Useable battery storage – 15 kWh
Installed inverter capacity – 5 kVA

The main criteria for the trailer was to fit as much PV on as possible so an array was designed with 4 x 415 W panels and another 2 sliding out making a total of 2.5 KW.

If you would like to know more about getting one of these portable renewable energy systems using safe, reliable, recyclable, SoNick (molten salt) battery storage for your own home, business or micro-grid application visit us at

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