Powercor has announced it will install a 120kW/360kWh battery in the western Melbourne suburb of Tarneit to make the most of the strong rooftop solar penetration in the area.
The energy storage system, the first community battery on the Powercor network, is designed to “soak up” excess rooftop solar generation during peak generation times in and around the middle of the day, and then supply up to 170 nearby homes during the evening peak, providing more than two-and-a-half hours battery storage. The battery will be installed next to an existing electrical substation located in the suburb.
Powercor said work on the installation is scheduled to begin in the coming months with the battery expected to be operating by the end of 2022.
Powercor’s head of non-network solutions, Greg Hannan, said the battery will provide benefits for local customers by not only providing the community with access to local renewable energy, but also helping to manage potential problems of grid instability that can be exacerbated by changing voltage levels affected by rooftop solar exports.
“The battery will soak up excess solar being generated by households during the day and deliver it back to all customers when electricity demand is high,” he said. “It will provide benefits to up to 170 homes connected to this part of the network, whether they have solar or not.
“In this way, the battery also helps improve reliability in the area, reduce carbon emissions and paves the way for more households to connect and share locally generated solar with their neighbours in the future.”
Hannan said rooftop solar is booming in Tarneit and the surrounding suburbs with the 3029 postcode (Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing and Truganina), having the highest number of solar connections in the Powercor network with more than 16,532 small-scale systems installed in the area.
“The Tarneit and surrounding community is leading Victoria’s renewable energy boom with more than 40% of local homes connecting solar panels to our network,” he said.
It’s expected the new battery, which has secured $800,00 in funding under the Victorian Government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, will enable an additional 129,600kWh of solar exports per annum in the area – enough for an additional 30 solar customers to export their excess energy back into the network.
Hannan said projects like the Tarneit community battery are helping to shape the future of the electricity network.
“By enabling access to more renewables in communities, our network is a crucial gateway to a clean energy future to support our customers and the environment,” he said.
Powercor’s announcement comes just days after the Yarra Energy Foundation switched on a 110kW/284kWh community battery in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy North.
The Yarra Community Battery will soak up excess rooftop solar generated locally before sharing the renewable energy with a subnetwork of nearly 200 properties.
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It is interesting to examine these community battery projects in terms of the cost of generated energy. The unit energy costs are often not published and almost never with enough detail to be independently verified.
It appears from the information in the article that the cost of making the additional PV energy available for use might be of the order of 60c/kWh or about twice the current retail rate. If so, then we need to start accepting that renewable energy via batteries will be more costly, at least in the medium term. The simple analysis, which of course can be tweaked in either direction:
• $800,000 for a $360kWh battery
• Enables 129.6MWh of extra PV per year
• Assume a 10 year battery life with zero maintenance
• Enables a total 1,296MWh over 10 years
• Simple unit cost is 617 $/MWh or 61.7c/kWh ($800,000/1,296MWh)
I estimate another 75kw of PV would be “enabled” by this battery (20% capacity factor). At $2000/kw and a 20 year life, that energy is going to cost $0.06/kW.h to make. Just a reminder that the energy isn’t free to begin with, let alone what Vince has calculated that it costs to be “enabled”.
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