The launch marks the start of a two-year trial being run by Ausgrid, which seeks to shift the way solar power is being utilised in the state, ultimately allowing for more renewables on the grid, while also decreasing costs for residents and stabilising local grids.
The battery installed in Beacon Hill is a 150 kW / 267 kWh MTU Energy Pack QS. Residents with solar systems who live in the Northern Beaches trial area have been invited by Ausgrid to register their interest to participate in the trial, which will see them able to store up to 10 kWh of excess solar energy each day at no cost. This excess energy will be credited against their electricity use for that day, and eventually credits will be paid to the participant each quarter via bank transfer.
Ausgrid’s other two community batteries are planned for the Canterbury Bankstown and Lake Macquarie areas.
“Put simply, a community battery allows multiple households within a certain radius to ‘share’ a storage system for the excess energy generated by solar panels. This can save households thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of an individual battery, and allow them to effectively use more of the solar energy their home systems generate – bringing down their electricity costs,” Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross said.
“This is an exciting milestone for Ausgrid and the first step in our community solar battery project which we know can benefit customers by keeping downward pressure on energy prices by reducing peak demand, and supporting the use of renewable energy.
“We are confident the trial will show that community batteries have a huge role to play in the low-cost transition of our energy system,” he added.
The trial is in a similar vein to those underway other states, most notably Western Australia. Run by retailer Synergy and network operator Western Power, WA’s highly successful PowerBank trial last week announced its expansion. Its latest edition, PowerBank 3, is the largest in the scheme to date with up to 600 Western Australian households able to leverage battery storage technology. It follows the installation of nine 116 kW batteries across the state late last year.
Likewise, Victoria’s CitiPower and Yarra Energy Foundation announced in January they will parter to create a community battery network in the Melbourne CBD and inner-city suburbs.
While New South Wales remains behind states like South Australia and Victoria in terms of its renewable energy transition, the state’s Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean is hell bent on not only steering the state towards renewables, but making it a superpower. The state is leading the charge with new rooftop solar system installations, accounting for almost a third of the 2.6 GW of rooftop pv added in Australia in 2020. Kean’s ambitious Infrastructure Roadmap, which plans to add 12 GW of renewables by 2030, has indeed revved up bigger action in NSW since it was announced just over four months ago, inspiring companies like Neoen and Origin to declare plans for whopping batteries in the state. With Australia’s notoriously rickety grid and groundswell of renewable support, batteries, it seems, have begun their moment in the sun.
“It’s exciting to see Ausgrid share the vision we have in NSW to use technology and innovation to deliver some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable electricity anywhere in the world,” Kean said at the battery launch.
“We believe community batteries are the most cost effective way to bring renewable energy into the grid. They provide a service to the residents, allowing them to store their solar, a service to the community by supporting the local network and they provide system security benefits by helping to firm renewables wherever they are generated,” Ausgrid CEO Gross added.
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