Electricity distribution company Powercor will install a community battery storage system in the western Melbourne suburb of Tarneit, to better accommodate what it describes as some of the “most strong local rooftop solar penetration” on its grid.
Powercor announced the installation of the 150kW/3888kWh community battery on Monday, alongside separate plans to scout sites for future community batteries in up to 12 locations across central and western Victoria, with its poles and wires stablemate CitiPower.
The Tarneit project, to which the state government would contribute $800,000, will help soak up excess rooftop solar and supply up to 150 homes during peak periods, by sharing in more than two and a half hours of battery storage.
The battery is also expected to enable an additional 121,800kWh of solar exports a year, at a time when the limited ability of distribution network service providers to accommodate booming rooftop solar uptake has become a major speed-hump on the road to renewables – and has given rise to some major and controversial market reforms.
As RACV Solar CEO Andy McCarthy told One Step earlier this year, on certain parts of Victoria’s Powercor grid, as many as one in three rooftop PV installation jobs were either seeing their solar-to-grid export amounts heavily restricted, or limited to zero.
This could, in all likelihood, include Tarneit, which joins various neighbouring suburbs to make up the 3029 postcode in Victoria, which was the second-best performing rooftop solar suburb in Australia in 2020, according to CSIRO data.
According to Powercor, the 3029 postcode (Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing and Truganina) currently has more than 13,800 residential rooftop solar systems connected to the network, making up about 42% of all customers in the area.
“Solar is booming in Tarneit and this battery will allow more homes to connect and export excess solar from their systems back into the grid,” said Powercor’s general manager of electricity networks, Mark Clarke.
“This battery will provide benefits for local customers, whether they have solar or not, by providing the community with access to local renewable energy, improving the reliability of electricity during peak demand times.”
Once the battery is installed, Powercor said it would also trial innovative tariffs to allow retailers to offer new products to customers which it hoped would help shape how community batteries might work on renewables-dominated grids.
Meanwhile, Powercor and CitiPower said they would get to work examining the best locations for batteries on other parts of their grids, taking into account factors including the community benefits and local power demand and network constraints.
The $150,000 study, which has also received funding from the Victorian government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, will be developed with councils and community energy and greenhouse alliance groups across Victoria.
“Community batteries can play a part by supporting more people export their excess rooftop solar, helping us avoid costly network upgrades and reducing greenhouse emissions,” Clarke said.
“This technology also has enormous benefits for reliability and maintaining power quality within neighbourhoods helping keep power reliable and safe for all of our customers.”
Work on the feasibility study, which will also include electricity distributor United Energy, will begin this year and is due to be completed in 2022. It will explore opportunities across parts of Geelong, Bendigo and the Macedon Ranges, as well as Melbourne’s CBD.
Construction of the Tarneit battery is also expected to begin this year and to be operational by June 2022.