Energy Queensland to trial five grid-connected batteries in high solar zones

The 4MW/8MWh Tesla battery at Bohle Plains in Townsville

Queensland has become the latest Australian state to embrace the use of grid-connected battery storage systems on parts of the network with high rooftop solar uptake, with the announcement of five regional locations that will host a total of 40MWh of storage capacity between them.

State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Thursday that Energy Queensland would commence a battery storage trial in Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Townsville, Yeppoon and Toowoomba, as solar uptake in the state reaches levels where 1 in 3 households are putting PV on the roof.

“Because Queensland has one of the highest levels of rooftop solar uptake in the world, we want to make sure we’re using this important source of renewable energy in the right way and our network is keeping up with demand,” Palaszczuk said.

The five battery systems, which will collectively store up to 40MWh, would soak up excess rooftop solar generation in these towns, Palaszczuk said, and store it for “sustainable use,” including for dispatch into the market during peak demand periods.

State energy minister Mick de Brenni said Energy Queensland-owned sites had been identified for the trial where deployment could occur as quickly and efficiently as possible, and where it was seeing the highest penetration of solar on the network.

He said Energy Queensland would tap the “proven delivery model” it had established through the successful installation of a 4MW/8MWh Tesla battery at Bohle Plains in Townsville. And if the trial was deemed a success, then it would consider installing battery storage systems network-wide, right across the state.

“In the medium term, this technology means we can ‘bank’ the excess renewable energy generated allowing a continued growth in rooftop solar on the way to achieving Queensland’s renewable energy target,” de Brenni said.

“This storage will deliver benefits across both the transmission and distribution networks and will also offer increased opportunities for local manufacturing and civil works for local businesses.

“For example, some of the components, such as the switchgear, could be made locally and there will be opportunities for Queensland-based training and development.”

Queensland’s expanded trial of network-connected battery systems follows similar efforts in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, as distribution network companies around the country grapple with the reality of rapidly growing rooftop solar uptake and what it means for the grid.

Western Australia has been particularly proactive in this space, the state recently announcing its third and biggest-yet community battery trial, offering up to 600 solar households access to shared or “virtual” energy storage that will allow them to bank their excess PV generation.

The five locations for the Energy Queensland battery rollout are: Black River Substation,Townsville; Tanby Substation, Yeppoon; Bargara Substation, Bundaberg; Torquay Substation, Hervey Bay, and; Torrington Substation, Toowoomba.

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