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Community batteries are 'go'

Residents able to store solar power in community battery trial

Perth residents will have the opportunity to trial battery storage technology in an extension of Synergy and Western Power’s Australian-first PowerBank trial.

Eligible homes in Ellenbrook can now apply to take part in the PowerBank 2 trial and virtually store their energy from their solar panels.

Following the success of the initial trial in Meadow Springs in 2018, the trial was also extended into the neighbouring Peel region suburb of Falcon in November 2019.

PowerBank is the first time in Australia that a utility-scale battery has been integrated into an already-established major metropolitan network and provides an alternative storage option for residents.

Customers on the original trial in Meadow Springs collectively saved around $11,000 off their power bills.

As part of the trial, a 116kW (464kWh) Tesla battery has been connected to the electricity grid in both Ellenbrook and Falcon, allowing households with rooftop solar panels to optimise their existing solar generation by virtually storing excess energy.

Each customer participating in the 24-month PowerBank 2 trial will have a choice of either 6kWhs or 8kWhs of virtual storage, at a cost of $1.60 or $1.90 per day respectively, for the excess power generated during the day from their solar PV systems.

They will then be able to draw electricity back from the PowerBank during the afternoon and evening peak time without having to outlay upfront costs for a behind-the-meter battery storage system.

Ellenbrook PowerBank

Synergy CEO Jason Waters said the importance of Synergy and Western Power joining forces to develop the PowerBank trials cannot be underestimated, as it provides valuable learnings as to how battery storage technology can be beneficial to customers.

“There is so much to learn about how to integrate battery storage technology into the sector, as we move away from the traditional centralised generation and network model, to a future that increasingly incorporates distributed energy resources, such as battery storage deployed at individual customer and community-scale levels,” Mr Waters said.

“We know more of our customers want to know how they can benefit from battery storage technology in the future and want Synergy to partner with them directly to find solutions.”

“There is a natural link to their requirements, as they are already effectively selling their excess solar PV electricity output to Synergy through the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme and buy electricity from the grid when their solar panels are no longer generating. We know those customers are seeking an alternative to store and use that excess energy, to help them manage their household energy consumption more efficiently.”

Western Power Former Chief Executive Officer (acting) Dave Fyfe said the investment in grid-connected community batteries, like the PowerBank trial, would continue as it delivered benefits beyond just battery storage.

“Community batteries don’t only provide immediate, cost-effective solar storage options, they also have a collective benefit of smoothing out power supply to all customers in the area and opening up the capacity for more solar to be installed in the future,” Mr Fyfe said.

“We are in the process of identifying several locations that will deliver almost immediate benefit from the installation of a community battery and we are working to roll out batteries to these areas by the middle of this year.”

There are no lock-in contracts for homes taking part in the trial, which will give greater flexibility and choice to customers in deciding how they meet their individual electricity needs.

Customers will be billed monthly and receive seasonal updates on the savings they are making under the trial, as well handy tips and information on how they can improve their energy use.

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