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Australia's clean energy transition powered by community batteries


More and more Australians are embracing the sustainable way of life with one in three homes in the country going solar. Rooftop solar panels, in fact, generated enough power last year to account for more than 11 per cent of Australia’s total electricity supply.


However, energy distribution companies such as Ausgrid are also facing a problem of plenty, with excessive daytime power generation and export to the grid from rooftop solar panels leading to wastage and voltage spikes, with the power not being available for use at night when it’s needed. While homes can install individual solar batteries, the cost of investing in one can be beyond the means of many households.


To combat the problem of excessive solar generation during the day, Ausgrid launched a community battery in Beacon Hill in 2021, as part of a two-year trial to transform the way solar energy generated by local homes is stored.


Community batteries allow local residents to store their excess solar power in a shared system, help increase the amount of clean energy that goes into the grid cost-effectively, bridge the gap between when power is generated and when it is needed, and ensure grid stability.


On the other hand, households can save thousands of dollars on the upfront cost of an individual battery, and also effectively use more of the solar energy their home systems generate, bringing down their electricity costs and maximising their investment, according to Ausgrid. Very importantly, a community battery allows both the neighbourhood and the wider community, especially households without rooftop solar to access solar power. It also encourages more homes to install solar panels on their roofs.


Following the successful trial, Ausgrid, in collaboration with the Australian Government, delivered the first of six community batteries in September 2023 at Cabarita in Sydney as part of the Community Batteries for Household Solar Program.


“We estimate NSW consumers could save up to $20 billion if community batteries replaced half the expected home batteries, with the added benefits of continuing to put downward pressure on peak energy prices while maintaining grid stability,” Ausgrid chief executive officer, Marc England said.


Additionally, Ausgrid will also be co-installing community-based renewable energy projects to further increase access to Australia’s clean energy transition.


As of May 2024, Ausgrid has installed seven community batteries, with the latest installation of a 535kWh battery in Warriewood delivered with the assistance of Northern Beaches Council. This will be followed up with a 100kW rooftop solar system on the new Warriewood Community Centre.

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