All-electric, all-solar Canberra suburb set to launch unique home battery trial

Evoenergy’s Leylann Hinch and other grant recipients with Minister Rattenbury. Image supplied

One of Canberra’s first all-electric, gas-free suburbs, Ginninderry Estate, is set to host a potentially ground-breaking residential battery storage trial after the project won a $250,000 grant from the ACT government.

Territory utility, Evoenergy, said that registrations for stage one of the Ginninderry Residential Battery Trial were set to open in October, with the grant money going towards the roll-out of subsidised batteries for up to 75 homes.

The grant for the project was taken from the ACT government’s Renewable Energy Innovation Fund, as RenewEconomy reported here late last week.

Evoenergy, which is Canberra’s main electricity and gas power network provider, says the trial aims to explore how small-scale solar and batteries interact with local electrical infrastructure in areas of 100 per cent solar uptake.

This makes Ginninderry the ideal testing ground, as a 350-home gas-free precinct that was kicked off in early 2018 as a joint venture between the government and local landowners, mostly farmers, and developed by Riverview Group.

As One Step has reported, Ginninderry – which required the amendment of Territory development laws to allow for its establishment – swapped out gas and made rooftop solar and smart meters mandatory instead in stage 1 of the suburb.

Evoenergy says that with the addition of batteries to up to 75 of the suburb’s homes, the plan is to work with participants to analyse energy consumption patterns and identify and test optimal battery charge and discharge times, to alleviate network congestion during peak demand periods.

This is being done elsewhere in Australia, most notably via major rooftop PV and battery virtual power plant trials in South Australia, but the ACT trial is unique in that it is happening on an all-electric embedded network that has 100 per cent solar penetration.

The program will also trial a new cost-reflective tariff that provides participants with more control over their cost of electricity and help support the local electricity grid.

“In recent times, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of solar and batteries connected to our electricity network, which has changed the way energy flows,” said Evoenergy’s strategy and operations manager Leylann Hinch.

“This presents network safety and reliability challenges which we’re working through, but we also recognise the great benefits that come when Canberrans have flexibility and control over the generation and use of their own renewable energy.

“We know Canberrans want innovative, sustainable and low-cost energy solutions, so rather than build more poles and wires, we’re focusing on a more proactive, responsive and flexible approach to balancing electricity supply and demand, while we continue to enable the integration of renewable energy,” Hinch said.

“This project will help build our knowledge about localised demand management, and play an important role in evolving our demand management approach.”

Registrations for Evoenergy’s Ginninderry Residential Battery Trial are expected to open in October 2020. For more information or to stay up to date with trial progress and results, visit www.evoenergy.com.au/emerging-technology/initiatives.

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