Enova Community Energy’s bid to trial a peer-to-peer solar trading platform in New South Wales has made significant progress this week after it was confirmed that the retailer’s first “shared battery” would be installed in the state’s Hunter Region, at a site in Kurri Kurri.
The Byron Bay-based Enova said this week that a 1MW/2MWh battery would be installed at the Ausgrid substation on the outskirts of Kurri Kurri later in 2021, as part of the so-called Beehive Project it is developing in partnership with Sydney-based software company Enosi and the University of Newcastle.
(Enova has not yet revealed which manufacturer will be providing the battery storage system, but told One Step on Tuesday that it was currently finalising negotiations and hoped to reveal this information in February 2021.)
The peer-to-peer program will enable 500 participants to buy and sell rooftop solar energy from each other and trade with the battery itself. Participants must be Enova customers, must live in NSW, and must have a smart meter, but don’t have to have solar.
According to the website, participants will be able to log into an online platform, where energy usage from solar households will be matched with non-solar households and assist customers to conduct transactions with each other.
The platform will also connect the participants to the battery for accessing stored energy when needed, via the battery node, effectively making it part of the P2P community.
Essentially, as Enova puts it, “instead of unused solar energy going back to the grid, [the platform] provides a way of enabling it to continue circulating amongst a community of participants so that more value can be gained by all.”
The software underpinning the energy sharing and trading platform, called Powertracer, has been developed and contributed by Enosi, while the University of Newcastle will collect and analyse data over the course of the “first of its kind” pilot.
“Projects like this have the potential to change the face of the electricity system as we know it,” said Enova Community Energy CEO Felicity Stening.
“With our partners Enosi and University of Newcastle, we’re looking forward to generating great results and learnings that can be shared with the broader community, so that the capability to generate, store and share renewable energy can start to be part of the new normal.”
Ausgrid, as the network owner, will no doubt be watching on with interest – and has given the project its blessing.
“Ausgrid is committed to empowering customers to have greater control of their energy use by harnessing the energy generated by their solar panels. We are pleased to be able to work with Enova to provide access to our site and the grid for this project,” it said in a statement.
The NSW government has also given some support, in the form of just under $1 million in grant funding from its Regional Community Energy Fund – a vital contribution to the battery component of the trial for a social enterprise like Enova.
“Innovative renewable energy projects like the Enova shared community battery will help to make electricity more reliable and affordable for our regional communities,” said state energy minister Matt Kean on Tuesday.
And Cessnock Council Mayor Bob Pynset, too, welcomed the ground-breaking initiative, and his local government’s role in giving the battery a home.
“The Hunter region is navigating its way from being seen as only a coal-producing region, toward a region of opportunity. This opportunity to support a community energy asset could not have come at a more important time. We’re thrilled to invite our community to get involved by registering to participate.”
Enova is currently taking registrations for individual households and businesses interested in participating in The Beehive Project. See here for details on eligibility and how to register.