City of Melbourne council is developing a business case for a network of coordinated community batteries that will deliver renewable energy into the grid.
Future battery locations will be proposed for areas where network demand is constrained or expected to increase over the coming decades.
The network will have a potential future capacity of 5MW by 2024. According to the Climate Council, that’s enough to power 1,500 homes.
“This project will encourage a new wave of innovation in the mid-scale battery sector,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp says.
She says the initiative will also be a step towards the City’s aim of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2040.
City of Melbourne has allocated $300,000 to deliver the pilot and is seeking partners for the project, which it hopes will be replicable across the country.
Sharing power and supporting the grid
Community batteries are an efficient way of delivering power, says Dr Marnie Shaw, research leader in the battery storage and grid integration program at ANU.
“The big advantage is if one building has surplus energy it can be shared across the neighbourhood and any excess can go back into the grid,” she told Government News.
The City of Melbourne trial will join a number of community battery pilots being rolled out across Australia, including in WA, Sydney and another Melbourne trial being planned by the Yarra Energy Foundation.
However, Dr Shaw says despite the promise of community batteries there are technical and regulatory issues that need to be ironed out.
These include current requirements to pay for the transportation of energy to the grid, which can make community batteries costly if they are in front of the meter.
She says local government is well placed to deliver community batteries via partnership arrangements.
“Local councils seem to be a really good independent agency for running the batteries,” she says.
“But it’s a technical piece of equipment so there’s a level of technical proficiency needed to run them and there needs to be a partnership between the council and networks who understand how to operate big pieces of equipment like this on the grid.”
City of Melbourne environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert says Power Melbourne will test what can be achieved through collaboration to increase battery storage in urban areas.
“Power Melbourne will deliver a huge amount of insight and data into how we can best reform our electricity networks to encourage more renewables and battery storage,” Cr Leppert said.
“Energy storage will help make more efficient use of the network, and will play an important role in accelerating our transition to a highly renewable electricity grid and low carbon economy.”
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