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$3.68m for VIC Neighbourhood Batteries

As part of the Victorian Government’s effort to halve emissions by 2030, the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative has awarded $3.68 million in grants for batteries and energy storage studies to determine the potential benefits of localised solar energy.

Neighbourhood-scale batteries can benefit Victorian electricity users, networks and communities by soaking up excess output from residential solar systems during the day, and then dispatching it when needed in the evening. 

The program is funding pilots and demonstrations of a range of neighbourhood battery ownership and operational models to unlock the potential of neighbourhood-scale energy storage in Victoria’s transition to clean energy.

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, announced that 16 groups led by community organisations, local councils and industry will share in the grants.

Successful groups include:

  • Yarra Energy Foundation – $800,000 for construction of a neighbourhood ‘solar sponge’ battery in Fitzroy North
  • Geelong Sustainability Group – $150,000 to determine the feasibility of establishing a series of neighbourhood batteries across Geelong to help residents to store their excess solar energy
  • Energy Innovation Co-operative – $150,000 to investigate how neighbourhood batteries could support Phillip Island achieving 100 per cent renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral by 2030

Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) CEO, Dean Kline, said the goal is to make the Yarra battery the first of many in a network of community batteries across the CitiPower network.

Mr Kline said, “We’re at a tipping point for community batteries. The race is now on to find the most equitable and cost-effective model to rapidly deploy batteries across Melbourne.

“By working closely with our partner and electricity distributor, CitiPower, we have been able to identify the areas in the most need of a community battery.”

A community battery will alleviate points of congestion in the grid, enable more rooftop solar, and lower energy prices for residents. Under the project’s new energy sharing model, all energy users connected to the battery could benefit — including renters — not just those with rooftop solar.

Mr Kline said, “To decarbonise our power we have to provide people with solutions that are sustainable, scalable and fair for everyone, especially tenants and those in multi-unit housing. Community batteries can provide those benefits for everyone.”

By 2022, the YEF trial aims to develop a commercially-viable model for community batteries which would allow them to be deployed at scale.

“It is widely accepted that community batteries will become a common feature of our neighbourhoods,” said Mr Kline. 

“How quickly and equitably we deploy them, what they look like, and how the community engages with them is what we plan to learn from this trial over the next 12 months.”

These batteries can maximise access to the power generated by the hundreds of thousands of solar systems across the state, with Victoria’s Solar Homes Program having seen record levels of rooftop solar systems installed.

About 20 per cent of Victorian households now have solar panels, a figure that could grow to 50 per cent by 2030.

The Neighbourhood Battery Initiative is part of the record $1.6 billion clean energy package announced in the Victorian Budget 2020/21. 

The package is delivering household and business energy efficiency initiatives, improve crucial grid infrastructure, drive down emissions and support more Solar Homes.