30 April 2021

Thanks to funding from Entrust, Vector has completed a construction project to help strengthen the electricity supply in Kawakawa Bay by installing the first community microgrid in Auckland.

Trustees Dr Paul Hutchison and Alastair Bell visiting the community microgrid at Kawakawa Bay.

A microgrid is a local energy network with the ability to disconnect and operate independently from a wider network. The Kawakawa Bay microgrid is powered by a 1 MW BESS (Battery Energy Storage System).

The purpose of the microgrid is to improve the electricity supply for the Kawakawa Bay community and provide more reliable power for the Watercare wastewater system.

How will the microgrid help with outages and improve performance?

The microgrid is capable of providing additional support to the power supply at Watercare’s wastewater vacuum pump station at Kawakawa Bay. This means that, if Vector’s network is unavailable, these pumps can be powered directly by the BESS, allowing normal processing of wastewater and avoiding the potential for overflow. 

Under certain conditions the microgrid can provide limited and short-term backup power (up to five hours) to homes if a fault occurs elsewhere on the network. Whether the microgrid can be utilised, and the duration it can be utilised for, depends on many factors including the nature of the fault, how much electricity is being used by the community at the time and the battery charge available.

Why was Kawakawa Bay selected for the microgrid?

Kawakawa Bay and surrounding areas are supplied via an electricity distribution line running approximately 50km from Clevedon substation to Kaiaua on East Coast Road. This length, together with the route and geography of the area, means there has historically been an increased risk of damage to the network as a result of car crashes, trees, or storms. 

Which area is connected to the microgrid? 

The microgrid supports a designated area within Kawakawa Bay, shown below. Residents within this area can be supplied by the microgrid under certain conditions. The microgrid cannot supply power outside this area.