Port Phillip Climate Emergency Network (PECAN) actively worked with the Metro Community Power Hub to assess interest in establishing a community battery in Port Phillip prior to the conduct of a feasibility study in the first part of this year. PECAN conducted a webinar in 2021 which identified significant community support for a community battery locally.
The Metro Community Power Hub was funded by Sustainability Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government through the Community Power Hubs program and was led by the not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation.
What is a Community Battery?
A community battery (also known as a neighbourhood battery) is a locally-based shared battery. It is typically the size of a 4WD vehicle, and provides around 500kWH of storage that can support up to 250 local households. A community battery could facilitate the reduction of community greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in better health outcomes, greater community wellbeing and also contribute to reducing overall Melbourne emissions.
Solar households would feed into the battery during the day and all participating residents can draw from the stored energy at night. A community battery would allow households that can’t install solar – like apartment owners and renters – to draw from the stored renewable energy from local solar panels. Any excess electricity stored in a community battery above local community needs can be sold into the grid when it is needed most putting further downward pressure on electricity bills.
Increasing battery storage will:
- Cut power bills for households – by taking advantage of inexpensive and renewable solar energy that can be stored and used at peak times;
- Cut emissions – by increasing the total use of renewable energy;
- Reduce pressure on the grid – by reducing community reliance on the grid at peak times when the sun isn’t shining.
Community batteries make renewable energy more accessible to individual households. They also store and distribute electricity more efficiently, by allowing excess solar power to be shared.
Community Batteries across Australia
There have been a number of other community battery projects and trials around Australia to date. A 5-year long project to trial the use of energy storage at community-scale in a Western Australian suburb achieved an 85% reduction in consumption of energy from the grid at peak times for participating households .
A community battery project started in Beacon Hill, Sydney in 2021; one of three such systems being installed across the New South Wales city. Queensland also has a community battery energy storage system project.
In Victoria, a proposed community battery energy storage system for Phillip Island has been announced. The Yarra Energy Foundation in partnership with City of Yarra, CitiPower and the Australian National University is on track to install the first inner-urban community battery with funding from the Victorian Government.
The City of Melbourne is establishing a network of coordinated neighbourhood-scale batteries to deliver more renewable energy into the grid and drive sustainability. The Power Melbourne project will see the installation of a battery network across the city, with a focus on City of Melbourne existing infrastructure initially, as well as the Melbourne Innovation District located in the CBD’s north.
PECAN is currently conducting a questionnaire for residents in Port Phillip to gauge interest in participating in a community battery project in the City of Port Phillip. The questionnaire gives participants an opportunity to be involved and have a say in the development of this exciting initiative. The results will be shared once collated and analysed.
PECAN partnered with the Metro Community Power Hub to host an online information session on community batteries for residents and businesses in the Port Phillip area on 17 March 2022. You can watch this event here.