Big storage goes metro: Tesla supplies 500 kWh to City of Sydney

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Sydney Mayor Clover Moore inaugurated the Tesla Powerpack grid-scale storage system installed at the City of Sydney’s Alexandra Canal depot this week. It points to a bright future for large scale storage, dispersed throughout the electricity network – potentially bringing down grid costs and enhancing reliability.

The battery storage system connects to a C&I scale solar roof on top of the City’s new depot facility. It will be the first time that a storage system of that size is used in such a densely populated area.

In the past, grid-scale storage systems have been deployed to compensate for weak grid infrastructure at the very margins of a network, or on island or minigrid applications.

The City of Sydney and Transgrid were the project partners realizing this novel application. According to the announcement made by the City of Sydney’s mayor’s office, 1,600 roof-mounted solar panels are connected to a 500 kWh Tesla Powerpack installed on site.

Transgrid installed the battery as part of a behind the meter energy storage trial it is currently running. Operations of the depot, set to begin on June 30, are forecast to be powered by the rooftop PV and battery.

The grid operator said that ‘demand management’, reducing stress during peak demand around hotspots like Alexandra Canal depot, can minimize grid investments and have positive impacts on the electricity bills for its customers. To achieve this end, the grid operator will monitor and control the battery remotely and in real time.

“Growing the uptake of renewable energy is critical in combating the worst impacts of climate change,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said at the inauguration.

“We’re working towards a target of 50% of all electricity in the City of Sydney area to come from renewables by 2030. To help us achieve that target, we’re covering the roofs of our properties with as many solar panels as possible.” By mid-2021, the Sydney City Council hopes to have added 7,800 solar modules to its buildings.

“By partnering with a site where this service is needed, we can provide a benefit to support the City of Sydney’s renewable energy goals and reduce the costs of the council’s depot,” said Transgrid’s Italiano.

As PV penetration in Australian suburbs and cities continues to increase, large scale storage could play an increasingly important role in stabilizing the grid. If its utility can be proven in projects such as this one, expensive grid upgrades could be avoided.