Supercharge for regional community batteries plan

Plans to build community batteries across 18 council areas in regional Victoria have received a  boost with the announcement of state government funding to produce a business case.

Heather Green

The proposed 12-month Regional Greenhouse Alliance Neighbourhood Battery Investigation Project is being led by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance and other regional climate organisations in partnership with community energy company Indigo Power.

It’ll be funded from the latest round of grants from the state government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, which provides cash for pilots, trials and demonstrations of neighbourhood-scale battery ownership and operation models.

The Regional Greenhouse Alliance conducted a feasibility study in 2022 which found neighbourhood batteries can provide a range of benefits, such as enabling solar, improving energy independence and energy reliability, but that without government support the business case is not viable.

Servicing community needs

Annika Kearton, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance said the alliance was excited to be working with the 18 councils.

“The project will plan community batteries at sites servicing a high value community need, such as emergency shelters, places of last resort, and other critical community facilities, with a focus on exploring how to maximise benefits at different community sites”, she said.

Swan Hill Rural City Council is one of the local government partners in the project.

Director Development and Planning Heather Green said neighbourhood batteries are a vital element in meeting Council’s renewable energy storage targets.

“Neighbourhood batteries soak up cheap renewable energy when it is plentiful and dispatch it when it is needed most,” she said.

“There are many benefits to renewable energy being shared amongst neighbours including lowering bills and cutting emissions.”

City of Greater Bendigo, another of the LGAs slated to host a community battery, said the project would help Council achieve its target of zero emissions across the community by 2030.

The investigation project will run until August next year.

Victoria has committed $11 million to the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative as it seeks a better understanding of the role of neighbourhood-scale batteries in the state’s  clean energy transition.

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