NBN Has Been Using Wind Turbines as a Backup to Power its Network

NBN Has Been Using Wind Turbines as a Backup to Power its Network

NBN Co is trialling micro-wind turbines to keep its facilities online during emergencies.

The trial is being undertaken in Geelong, Victoria, and it originally kicked off back in January. It’s not the first sustainable energy project NBN Co has undertaken and is dwarfed by the company’s solar farm plan (which was intended to be ready by 2022, but isn’t quite there yet).

But the difference is that this micro-wind turbine project is intended to keep network users online in an emergency, such as a flood or bushfire, to keep fixed wireless NBN connections up. Weaknesses in Australia’s regional and rural telecommunications infrastructure were identified in the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review, with the 2020 Black Summer Bushfires exemplifying the need for network resilience during times of crisis.

“From a resilient network perspective, we have determined it is possible to use wind generation to extend the battery life of temporary assets or a site during an emergency event – supporting communities and emergency services with connectivity when they need it most,” NBN Co chief engineering officer John Parkin said.

“And from an innovation perspective, we can see how critical Australian innovation is to solving shared sustainability challenges. This wind power solution has been a long time in the making and it’s exciting to be able to evaluate it in real time on our network.”

The wind turbines were developed by an Australian startup called Diffuse Energy. They were designed in Newcastle, NSW, and developed in Port Stephens with help from Decon Technologies.

These micro wind turbines are deployed in situations when connecting to the power grid is unachievable. Previously the NBN Co has deployed the Hybrid Power Cube, an asset that offers portable energy through solar and diesel generation, coupled to sodium-nickel batteries, but the added wind turbines are expected to extend the lives of these batteries further.

“While there is still much more to do, the trial has been a success. From a sustainability perspective, we are investigating and validating new renewable energy solutions to power our network – which reduces our dependence on the grid and drives down emissions and operational costs,”  Parkin added.