Victoria boosts battery funding after ‘state first’ storage solution switched on


The 110kW/284kWh Yarra Community Battery – which is expected to shift the way solar power is being utilised in the community, ultimately paving the way for more renewable energy to be integrated into the network – began charging with solar PV energy immediately after it was unveiled in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy North on Sunday.

Spearheaded by the not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF), the estimated $1 million Yarra Community Battery will soak up excess rooftop solar generated locally before sharing the renewable energy with a subnetwork of nearly 200 properties.

The 110kW/284kWh battery will charge at times of the day when there is low electricity demand or when local rooftop solar systems are exporting into the network. Power from the battery can then be used later in the day when demand is high and solar systems are no longer generating. YAF said the battery will reduce emissions from electricity use, reduce demand on the electricity grid, absorb and redistribute excess solar energy, and share renewable energy across the entire subnetwork, not just homes with rooftop solar.

YAF community battery project manager Chris Wallin said it was the “first generation of community batteries” and will allow the wider community access to both store and use renewable energy.

“It stores energy during the day and supplies in the evening peak, to reduce emissions from coal and brown coal generation,” he said. “Its purpose is environmental in a financially sustainable way.”

The 110kW/284kWh PowerShaper system supplied by Pixii.

Image: YEF

Supplied by Norwegian manufacturer Pixii, the 110kW/284kWh PowerShaper system features lithium-ion battery modules manufactured by Swedish company Polarium and includes Pixii’s Gateway monitoring and control applications. Pixii said the “muscle” in the system is the Pixiibox 48/3300, a bi-directional 3.3kW AC/DC converter module. Melbourne-based retail Acacia Energy has been engaged to operate the community battery using its cloud-based Optimisation and Bid Engine (OBE) platform.

State Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Yarra Community Battery, which received $800,000 funding from the state government’s $11 million Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, is “a demonstration about how we can return power and energy back to communities, back to neighbourhoods”.

D’Ambrosio on Sunday announced more than $2.3 million extra for the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, saying the program would supercharge the clean energy transition in communities across state.

The initiative has already provided nearly $4 million in grants with batteries being built in the Melbourne suburb of  Tarneit and the regional communities of Phillip Island and Yackandandah. Round 2 of the program is now open for applications.

The battery features artist Hayden Dewar’s work titled ‘Set the controls to harness the sun’.

Image: Pixii

The Energy Minister said the goal of the government is to prove community batteries can become more than a pilot or demonstration.

“They can be a mainstream feature of the way that we make our own energy as a community and how we share it when we need it the most,” she said.

“Neighbourhoods across Victoria will soon have batteries, not only helping slash carbon emissions and energy prices but letting communities be part of their transition to clean energy.”

Community battery energy storage systems have been growing in popularity in Australia, with the Yarra community battery the first of a series of community-scale batteries YAF plans to install across the inner-city suburbs.

Melbourne city council has also announced its intent to install a network of co-ordinated community batteries at council sites across the city while schemes are also being rolled out in New South Wales and Western Australia.

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