NT government delivers solar and storage trial for public housing

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The Northern Territory government said 15 public housing properties in Alice Springs will be fitted with solar panels and battery energy storage systems as part of a new trial being rolled out as part of the $12.5m Alice Springs Future Grid (ASFG) project, a whole-of-sys­tems project exploring how the remote community can achieve 50% renew­able ener­gy by 2030.

Part of the Public Housing Renewables Program, the trial is one of several sub-projects that make up the ASFG project, a collaborative effort led by the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy.

The solar panels and battery systems are to be installed by 14 May 2023 with the trial to produce data and lessons on how various metering types, such as prepayment and post-payment meters, interact with the Alice Springs Virtual Power Plant (VPP).

Switched on late last year, the VPP is one of the simulations, investigations and trials being conducted as part of the ASFG project. Operators are investigating how the orchestration of distributed energy resources can enable higher penetration levels of renewables into the grid while building on system security and stability. The townwide VPP already involves about 50 participants and comprises about 300-400 kW of rooftop PV capacity.

Future Grid Project Director Lyndon Frearson, from Alice Springs engineering firm Ekistica, said the latest trial will ensure that public housing tenants are able to share in the benefits of renewable energy.

“Integrating renewables into public housing and rental properties has proven to have many barriers, both in the NT and around Australia,” he said. “Alice Springs Future Grid has provided a platform to work collaboratively with tenants, Territory Housing, Power and Water Corporation, Jacana Energy and local contractors to find solutions for those barriers.”

The houses for the trial were selected based on the type of prepayment meters used and considerations around existing network constraints. Roof and switchboard conditions, and the degree of shading were also criteria for the suitability of the houses.

NT Energy Minister Selena Uibo the trial will help inform the design and delivery of future public housing stock with the integration of renewable energy crucial to the development and delivery of the Territory government’s renewable energy targets.

“We know lessons learnt through this public housing solar and battery trial will help inform planning around future public housing builds and management of solar power on the current stock,” she said.

“By investing in rooftop solar systems, we can make a material difference to the lives of public housing tenants who will benefit from a reduction in their power bills, while also generating clean energy.”

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