Victorian neighbourhood battery plan to maximise benefits of ‘solar boom’


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced his government would spend $42 million (USD 26.9 million) to install 100 neighbourhood batteries in communities across the state if it is re-elected on Nov. 26.

Fifteen of the batteries will initially be installed in Melbourne and 13 in regional Victoria. Labor said it has committed to work with community groups, local governments and distribution companies to identify locations for the remaining 72 batteries.

The rollout of rooftop solar in Victoria is among the most impressive in Australia with more than 200,000 Victorians having already installed solar panels on their roof. As many as one in every five homes have a solar system installed, generating enough energy to meet a third of Victoria’s total residential electricity demand but Andrews said the batteries will allow more residents to share the benefits of the “solar boom.”

Andrews said the neighbourhood batteries are expected to triple the number of Victorian homes with access to storage, allowing more to return surplus solar-generated electricity to the grid through feed-in tariffs.

“It means more households will have access to cheaper renewable energy, even if they don’t have their own solar panels,” he said. “We think about 25,000 households will benefit from this.”

The batteries build on the neighbourhood batteries the state government has already delivered in Fitzroy North, Yackandandah, and those currently being built in Tarneit and Phillip Island.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government planned to install all 100 batteries within the next term should it win another four years in office. She said the batteries will drive down power bills but did not put a dollar figure on how much.

“The more neighbourhood batteries that we have, the cheaper the cost will be of poles and wires that they’re required to pay off their bills, and of course the energy that they use,” she said. “We know that that’s … one of the key solutions to us meeting our ambition to get to 95% renewable energy by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2045.”

The neighbourhood battery announcement comes after Andrews recently declared plans to revive the government-owned State Electricity Commission (SEC) as part of its election plans on energy. It also announced it will target 95% renewables by 2035, with at least $1 billion to be spent on delivering 4.5 GW of renewable energy projects.

That came after the state government announced it will target 2.6 GW of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030, and 6.3 GW by 2035.

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