Australia’s largest rollout of community-based batteries supporting highly targeted and localized needs will commence later this year in United Energy’s network across Melbourne’s east, south east and the Mornington Peninsula.
When complete, the fleet of batteries will be able to store the electricity needed to support 3,000 homes as part of an $11 million investment in new energy technology.
The United Energy ‘Electric Avenue’ program will install 40 unique 30kW batteries on power poles over the next 18 months, each with the capacity to service up to 75 homes.
Unlike big battery projects which provide grid level stability and electricity market outcomes, these smaller batteries are designed to help improve electricity reliability and enable greater solar PV exports in local areas where the low voltage distribution network is constrained.
United Energy General Manager Electricity Networks, Mark Clarke, said that in this way, the Electric
Avenue pole-top batteries provide an opportunity for customers to share power in their community.
“A community battery is a way of storing energy that can then be used locally when it is needed,” Mr Clarke said.
“It is a great way of ensuring solar PV exports from homes in the community are consumed locally.
“From a network perspective, it also helps defer traditional investment so can save money for customers on future network tariffs.”
Mr Clarke said the customers accessing the batteries would enjoy a range of benefits whether they had rooftop solar or not, providing everyone with access to renewable energy.
“This helps us deliver more reliable and renewable electricity to our customers and support Victoria’s emissions reduction targets.”
he community batteries will charge at times of the day when there is low electricity demand or when local rooftop solar systems are exporting into the network. Power from the batteries can then be used later in the day when demand is high and solar systems are no longer generating.
United Energy has partnered with leading retailer Simply Energy to roll out the project, which will use the batteries as part of its Virtual Power Plant program.
Simply Energy CEO Shannon Hyde said the batteries presented enormous opportunities for customers in Melbourne’s south-east.
“The inclusion of community batteries to Simply Energy’s Virtual Power Plant program unlocks an array of new benefits, and by supporting the grid helps keep energy prices down,” Mr Hyde said.
“The program shows the versatility of battery technology in supporting networks, creating opportunities to trade energy and delivering for solar and non-solar energy customers alike.”
Each battery will be installed at least 3.6 metres above ground on standard power poles and support between 50 and 75 homes in the immediate vicinity with reliable stored energy for more than two hours at a time.
The 1-meter by 2-meter pole-top batteries are being made locally by Thycon, in their Coburg North factory and look like large transformers that are already located on poles across the network.
The $11 million project includes $7 million from United Energy and $4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
This large-scale pole-top battery rollout follows a successful two-battery trial last year in Melbourne’s Bayside area, the first of its kind in Australia.
United Energy expects to install and commission the first three Electric Avenue batteries later this year.
United Energy battery fast facts
Number of batteries: 40
Individual battery storage: 30kW/66kWh
Battery storage: 1.2MW/2.7MWh
Design: Pole-top mounted
Dimensions: 1m x 2m
Locations: Bayside, Casey, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Monash, Mornington
Peninsula and Whitehorse.