Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula are taking part in what’s been described as Australia’s largest rollout of community batteries. Energy provider United Energy says it plans to begin installing 40 batteries across Melbourne’s east and southeast later this year.
When complete, the fleet of batteries will be able to store the electricity needed to support 3000 homes as part of an $11 million investment in new energy technology.
United Energy says it will install the 30kW batteries – each with the capacity to service up to 75 homes – on power poles over the next 18 months as part of its Electric Avenue program. Unlike big battery projects that provide grid-level stability and electricity market outcomes, these smaller batteries are designed to help improve electricity reliability and enable greater solar PV exports in areas where the low-voltage distribution network is constrained.
“A community battery is a way of storing energy that can then be used locally when it is needed,” said the company’s general manager of electricity networks, Mark Clarke. “It is a great way of ensuring solar PV exports from homes in the community are consumed locally. From a network perspective, it also helps defer traditional investment, so it can save money for customers on future network tariffs.”
Mr Clarke said the batteries would give everyone in the area access to renewable energy regardless of whether they have rooftop solar. “This helps us deliver more reliable and renewable electricity to our customers and support Victoria’s emissions reduction targets.”
The community batteries will charge at times of the day when there is low electricity demand or when local rooftop solar systems are exporting to the network. Power from the batteries can then be used later in the day when demand is high and solar systems are no longer generating.
Shannon Hyde, the CEO of project partner Simply Energy, said the batteries presented enormous opportunities for Frankston and the Peninsula. “The inclusion of community batteries to Simply Energy’s Virtual Power Plant program unlocks an array of new benefits, and by supporting the grid it helps keep energy prices down,” Mr Hyde said. “The program shows the versatility of battery technology in supporting networks, creating opportunities to trade energy, and delivering for solar and non-solar energy customers alike.”
Each 1m x 2m battery will be installed at least 3.6m above ground on standard power poles and will support between 50 and 75 homes in the immediate area with reliable stored energy for more than two hours at a time. The batteries are being made in Coburg North and look like the large transformers that you see on poles across the network.
The rollout follows a successful two-battery trial in Bayside last year, the first of its kind in Australia.