Ausgrid have installed a ‘big battery’ to power homes at Beacon Hill.

Network energy provider Ausgrid yesterday (Monday, 15 February) unveiled the first community battery on Australia’s east coast at Princess Mary Street Reserve, Beacon Hill.

The community battery marks the start of a two year trial being run by Ausgrid, that aims to transform the way solar energy is stored, reduce household costs and increase the amount of renewable energy that goes into the grid.

The 267kwh battery will service around 250 nearby homes. Although the battery is capable of powering around 50 homes for almost two hours in the event of local power loss, the community battery trial will not be providing backup services for outages.

The purpose of the trial is to allow households in the area to ‘time shift’ their solar energy into the evening peak when their solar power is otherwise unavailable. The battery will also provide Ausgrid with useful background services for maintaining frequency, stability and load balancing of the local grid.

Grid scale battery storage has attracted huge interest since the Tesla battery was installed in South Australia in 2017 when Tesla boss Elon Musk offered the battery for free if it was not installed in 100 days. The operator of that battery system shocked the energy market with news the cost of building the battery was recovered in just over two years.

The Beacon Hill community battery allows local residents to store their excess solar power and is the first of its kind on Australia’s east coast. Residents in the trial area can store up to 10kwh in a ‘virtual battery’ as part of the community battery trial.

The trial location at Beacon Hill was selected because of the high number of solar households in the area. Residents within the trial area who have expressed interest and are eligible will be able to participate from April 2021.

The trial will also offer Ausgrid the opportunity to investigate a number of benefits to grid operators, including decentralisation, local network stabilisation and resilience.

Beacon Hill community battery
Richard Gross

Richard Gross

Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross was joined by NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean, Northern Beaches based MLC Natalie Ward and Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan at the unveiling.

“This is an exciting milestone for Ausgrid and the first step in our community solar battery project which we know can benefit customers by keeping downward pressure on energy prices by reducing peak demand and supporting the use of renewable energy.

“A community battery allows multiple households within a certain radius to share a storage system for the excess energy generated by solar panels. This can save households thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of an individual battery, and allow them to effectively use more of the solar energy their home systems generate, bringing down their electricity costs.

“We believe community batteries are the most cost effective way to bring renewable energy into the grid. They provide a service to the residents, allowing them to store their solar, a service to the community by supporting the local network, and they provide system security benefits by helping to firm renewables wherever they are generated.

“We are confident the trial will show that community batteries have a huge role to play in the low-cost transition of our energy system,” said Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross.

Matt Kean

Matt Kean

Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean said the NSW Government welcomes innovative initiatives that help local homes and businesses reap the rewards of cheap, reliable, renewable electricity.

“It’s exciting to see Ausgrid share the vision we have in NSW to use technology and innovation to deliver some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable electricity anywhere in the world.

“We’ve seen a huge uptake in rooftop solar, but consumers haven’t had a lot of choice when it comes to storing and sharing that cheap energy. Community batteries like this could be the solution to that problem.

“This is a win for the community and a win for the environment. I’m thrilled to see the first community battery on the east coast right here in the ‘Superpower State’,” said Minister Kean.

Natalie Ward

Natalie Ward

Member of the NSW Legislative Council and Northern Beaches local Natalie Ward said the trial offered residents cheap, reliable and efficient renewable energy.

“It’s announcements like these, partnerships like these, outcomes like these, that make me so proud to represent the Northern Beaches in NSW Parliament. The Northern Beaches is one of the most beautiful places in NSW. It’s also one of the most environmentally conscious communities.

“Not only do initiatives like this make environmental sense, it makes sense to the household budget. This partnership between energy providers and residents signifies not only the demand for renewables but the desire for cheaper, reliable, renewable energy to power our future,” said Ms Ward.

Mayor Michael Regan

Michael Regan

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said he was delighted the Northern Beaches would be the first location on the east coast of Australia to have a community battery.

“Beacon Hill was selected as the first trial location because a significant number of residents already have solar panels and because we know our community are such strong advocates for measures that protect our environment.

“We are proud to support initiatives that help residents save on electricity costs, use clean energy and get more value from solar investments. We hope the trial is a success and can be rolled out to more residents in the future,” said Mayor Regan.

The Northern Beaches installation is the first of three community batteries planned for the Ausgrid network in 2021. The other two locations will be in the Canterbury Bankstown and Lake Macquarie local government areas.

For more information about community batteries and for local residents to register interest, visit the Ausgrid website.

Images: Natalie Ward MLC, Ausgrid
Video: Ausgrid