Goldfields-Esperance gets its first community battery

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The battery rollout is part of WA’s Distributed Energy Resources (DER) roadmap, released last month by Energy Minister Bill Johnston. An effort to alleviate the growing problem of congestion on the distribution network. “There’s been a problem of over-voltage on individual feeders because of the amount of solar and community batteries support (sic) individual feeders or groups of feeders to de-constrain the grid on the distribution side,” Johnston told pv magazine Australia last month. 

Energy storage’s ability to smooth out these peak load periods by rapid charge or discharge of it storage not only improves the quality of power but also stabilises it. Moreover, that ability also allows for more residential and commercial rooftop solar to be able to connect to the grid.  

One in three households in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) alone (as distinct from regional Western Australia) live under rooftop solar, a number growing at 2,000 households a month, which has prompted the government to get “on the front foot” in planning and implementing DER integration in advance of problems forecast to hit by 2022 a grid unsuited to the intermittent two-way flow of energy.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston with Western Power CEO Ed Kalajzic

Image: Western Power

Energy storage also lubricates Virtual Power Plants (VPPs), which allow better power management and improve reliability. From October, Synergy will recruit 50 eligible customers from the region to contribute the energy generated by their solar systems to the battery. 

“This is a great example of the way regional areas enthusiastically embrace new technologies,” said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. “While this community battery is initially being used for network purposes, we look forward to seeing how it, and other new technology opportunities being investigated by the Government, will be used to benefit the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community and industry.” 

There are at least eight more community batteries planned for installation this year, but Johnston believes there is the potential for hundreds more. 

The logic of the DER Roadmap, according to Johnston, is that in de-constraining the grid more customers can install solar. “Solar is a big opportunity for WA, but beyond just rooftop solar, standalone power systems, batteries on the grid – there is a role for everything.”