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Community Batteries

What is a community battery?

A community battery is a mid-scale energy storage unit (about the size of 4 large fridges) that is embedded in the network, allowing for shared energy storage.

Fitzroy North community battery with beautiful artwork

Photo of our Fitzroy North community battery, the first inner-urban community battery in Australia.

 

Community batteries provide numerous benefits to residents, communities, and the entire electricity grid.

They essentially act as a ‘solar sponge’ – storing excess clean, cheap, and local solar energy (generated by rooftop solar arrays within the community) for use later in the day when demand is higher, and the sun is no longer shining.

This allows connected residents to use more of the renewable electricity they generate during the day.

The entire concept is designed for a neighbourhood, which allows the wider community to access and store renewable energy. Community batteries can provide power to everyone connected to the part of the sub-network, no matter which energy retailer they use or whether they have solar panels installed.

This helps put downward pressure energy prices, lowers our reliance on fossil fuel powered energy therefore reducing emissions, facilitates more solar installations, and even helps stabilise the grid.

The term ‘neighbourhood battery’ is a broader term referring to similar scale batteries, but which do not necessarily directly involve or benefit the community.

Further reading

ABC Science: A community battery ‘like a corner store’: Is this the future of home energy storage?

ABC News: $1m community battery unveiled in Melbourne in move towards more renewable energy

What problems do community batteries solve?

Rapid uptake in solar is causing ‘congestion’ in the electricity network, that is, more renewable energy than the grid can handle. Unfortunately, if renewable energy can’t be used, exported to the grid, or stored, it is wasted.

Community batteries address this problem by absorbing and storing excess energy from rooftop solar and releasing it during peak times when it is needed most.

Neighbourhood-scale batteries are a more affordable and cost-effective solution for renewable energy storage than individual household batteries, which are still prohibitively expensive for most people.

With community batteries, we can make our energy system more resilient, climate friendly, equitable, and affordable.

‘Solar waste’ — excess energy produced by local residents’ solar systems which is not utilised. The battery will capture and charge up during the day when solar export energy is highest, and release it during peak times or at night. ‘Energy inequity’ — not everyone is able to: install solar, access renewable and affordable energy, benefit from renewable energy, engage with the energy system. The battery will help to redistribute renewable energy across the community. All homes within the network catchment area, not just homes with solar, would be consuming electricity with a higher renewable energy content than the grid. ‘Export limiting’ — blockages in the electricity network restricting more homes from connecting solar to the grid. The battery would help remove restrictions on homes that want to export solar to the grid. This would increase the payback on solar if homes are able to export energy. ‘Energy affordability’ — electricity prices contribute to bill pressure, exacerbating already vulnerable people and households. The battery would apply downward pressure on the cost of electricity. As local supply of renewable energy increases and demand remains the same, electricity prices should become more affordable. These effects will be greater as community batteries scale in size and number. ‘Batteries are expensive’ — batteries are not yet cost-effective at the household scale. The battery would operate at the “neighbourhood scale”, leverage economies of scale, offer a more cost effective way to deploy battery storage.

Our current and future community batteries

Yarra Community Battery in Fitzroy North

The Fitzroy North community battery is the first inner-urban community battery in Victoria. The project aims to demonstrate the operational and commercial viability of a community battery model in an inner-urban setting.

Read more about our community engagement, FAQs, and the Final Report.

Fitzroy North community battery with beautiful artwork people admiring the battery

Richmond Community Battery

YEF are thrilled to be a recipient of funding from the Victorian Government for a community battery at Burnley Backyard community centre in Richmond.

The community battery will reduce emissions from energy, allow a higher solar penetration, and provide a new off-street EV charge-point for shared local use.

The funding is part of Round 2 of the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI), which includes $1.5 million for two neighbourhood batteries. The other battery being funded is for the Library at the Dock, managed by City of Melbourne.

At the Richmond community battery announcement event Staff from Yarra Energy Foundation the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment, Climate Change, and Solar Homes, alongside the Hon. Richard Wynne, Cr Amanda Stone and Cr Sophie Wade (Mayor) of the City of Yarra, and Lauren O’Dwyer the Victorian Labor candidate for Richmond.

YEF attended the announcement event with the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment, Climate Change, and Solar Homes, alongside the Hon. Richard Wynne, Cr Amanda Stone and Cr Sophie Wade (Mayor) of the City of Yarra, and Lauren O’Dwyer the Victorian Labor candidate for Richmond.

The future of community batteries

Australia, and the rest of the world, are struggling with rising energy prices and the ongoing climate crisis.

Community-scale solar batteries are a renewable energy storage solution in Australia, and can possibly shift us towards a decentralised grid, helping reduce both energy prices and emissions.

The Yarra Energy Foundation has ambitious goals of implementing numerous community batteries across Melbourne, Victoria, and Australia. Eventually your local battery will be almost like your local corner store – a small, trusted, local service.

There is also the opportunity to include other services than just storing local renewable energy, such as EV charging. This will be a major addition to YEFs second community battery in Richmond.

Community batteries will exist alongside both small home batteries and large grid-scale batteries.

 

“We need storage wherever we can put it — all the way from home batteries, community batteries, grid batteries and pumped hydro storage.” 

 

Chris Wallin, Commercial Programs Manager, YEF

Video Explainers

Short animated clips from Powercor / CitiPower – the network operator where our Fitzroy North community battery is installed.

Community / neighbourhood batteries help everyone share clean, renewable energy whether they’ve got solar panels or not!

Read some of the common questions we recieve about community batteries.

FAQs

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Resources

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Community engagement

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Events

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