A ground-breaking project that will allow a select group of households on Tasmania’s Bruny Island to sell their surplus, battery-stored solar power generation back to the grid has been granted $2.9 million from ARENA, in the latest round of funding announced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The three-year, $8 million project, which is called CONSORT (consumer energy systems providing cost-effective grid support), will be led by the Australian National University.
Its main aim is to test two of the major challenges facing electricity networks around Australia as consumers race to cut their bills by installing rooftop solar and battery storage: how to coordinate consumers’ battery systems to achieve capacity and voltage support outcomes; and how to reward consumers for the services their battery systems provide?
It will do this by helping up to 40 homes on the island of around 600 residents – which is also a major tourist attraction and holiday spot in south east Tasmania – to become “mini power stations”, by installing rooftop solar and battery storage, as well as energy management software developed by Canberra-based company Reposit Power, that allows the households to actively trade with their electricity provider, TasNetworks.
Importantly, for Bruny Island’s purposes, it means the households can supply energy to the insland’s mini-grid during the busy holiday season, when the population swells and electricity demand rises.
This, in turn, will relieve stress on the undersea cable supplying the island and reduce the need for expensive diesel-fuelled generators. It will also reduce TasNetworks’ operational costs on the island, while rewarding consumers for their investment and support.
At the announcement of the latest round of ARENA funding recipients on Wednesday, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the Bruny Island project was one of two “integrating renewables-type projects” being led by the ANU that had won government funding.
“Because Bruny Island is an off-grid situation, they have a very high penetration of renewables, and a very good wind resource; so how can you actually use renewables and storage in combination, renewables at a very high penetration level, to supply secure energy to the people there?
“They have a particular problem, in that lots of holiday-makers go there, so there are times of the year when they have lots of demand, and if they have lots of demand and there’s no sun or wind at that moment, what do they do? And so it’s about designing a whole network that way,” Frischknecht said.
Reposit co-foudner, Dean Spaccavento, said he expected the Bruny Island project to become a great example of how his company’s technology could transform the energy system while benefiting consumers.
“A battery with a solar panel can be converted into a remarkable power station,” Spaccavento said in a statement on Thursday.
“It’s fast and can both produce and consume power in an instant. It’s just the type of power station that the future needs. We think its very important that homes across Australia be able to participate in electricity markets.”
The three-year project will be joined by researchers at the University of Tasmania and University of Sydney to monitor CONSORT’s success, in collaboration with TasNetworks.