fbpx Download Search Left Arrow Right Arrow Down Arrow Close Play Button Facebook Instagram linkedin Icon Cloud 1 Icon Cloud

Community Batteries

Clifton Hill Neighbourhood Battery & Wheelchair-friendly EV Charging Bays

Project overview

Work is underway to install a neighbourhood battery and two wheelchair-friendly EV charging bays in Clifton Hill.

This marks the first installation in Australia of a neighbourhood battery co-located with EV charging facilities. To be installed near the Collingwood Leisure Centre in Clifton Hill, Victoria, the project aims to enable more renewable energy locally and make it more convenient for the community to charge electric vehicles.

The project is funded by a $750,000 grant from the Victorian Government through the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI) and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

This project also aims to reduce barriers to EV adoption, take climate action, and respond to the community’s interest in more public EV charging infrastructure.

To learn more, read our Frequently Asked Questions, share your thoughts via our online survey, or by applying to be part of our Community Reference Group (CRG).


Neighbourhood batteries, sometimes called ‘community batteries’, are batteries operating at the neighbourhood-scale. They can range from 50 kilowatts (kW) to 10 megawatts (MW) in power capacity and can be as small as a few large fridges or as large as a series of shipping containers.  

Neighbourhood batteries typically serve the part of the electricity grid connected to homes and businesses, ‘time-shifting’ the production and consumption of electricity. They are sometimes called ‘solar sponges’ or ‘solar soakers’ because they charge during the day — when the relative renewable energy content in the grid is high — and discharge during the evening peak demand time. 

For example, Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) installed a neighbourhood battery about the size of four large fridges on private land in Fitzroy North in June 2022. 

Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) is an independent not-for-profit organisation with a huge ambition – to build a cleaner energy system to address a changing climate.  

YEF exists to connect people to better energy. We do it by bringing government, industry, and community together to deliver innovative solutions for energy emissions reductions.  

Established by Yarra City Council in 2010, this financial year YEF received core funding and support from Yarra City Council. The organisation is governed by an independent and highly experienced Board of Directors.

Follow us on LinkedIn 

The Victorian Government provided a $750,000 grant to the Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) via the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI) round 2 to implement a neighbourhood battery and an electric vehicle (EV) charger.   

This would be the first co-located EV charger with a neighbourhood battery. 

The Neighbourhood Battery Initiative funding program aims to: 

  • support understanding of the full range of benefits that neighbourhood scale batteries can provide 
  • help to overcome barriers to the deployment of neighbourhood scale batteries 
  • inform regulatory reform 
  • determine which neighbourhood scale battery models provide the most benefits to the Victorian electricity system 
  • assist optimisation of distributed energy generation within the low voltage network 
  • support the decarbonisation of Victoria’s electricity system to tackle climate change. 


The objectives of the project are to:  

  • Install a battery energy storage system (BESS)  
  • Design and install a public electric vehicle (EV) charging station. The project team will explore if this EV “community charger” can use dynamic-pricing to incentivise charging behaviours that support the network and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Involve the local community in shaping how the battery and EV charger may operate.  
  • Operate the battery to reduce emissions and put downward pressure on electricity prices. 

The proposed site for the neighbourhood battery and EV charger is the Collingwood Leisure Centre located in Fitzroy, Victoria. The land is owned by the Victorian Government and the site is operated by Yarra City Council.  

YEF has conducted a thorough site identification and selection process in consultation with Yarra City Council and the Victorian Government.  

The main criteria that YEF used to narrow down possible sites included: 

  • Available space (at least six square metres) 
  • Land ownership / tenure (can we use the land, how may it affect users?) 
  • Safety (safe access, environment, traffic etc.) 
  • Density of residential solar (local renewable energy) 
  • Density of residential customers (local energy consumption) 
  • Technical feasibility (can the electrical system be connected to poles and wires) 
  • Budget and cost of installation (complexity and cost of installation) 
  • Ability to co-locate an EV charging station (to meet the innovation requirement of the grant) 

The initial site which YEF investigated in collaboration with Yarra City Council was Burnley Backyard, a community hub located in the suburb of Richmond. However, after exploring the feasibility, we found that the site was not going to be suitable for the project. 

Over several months, YEF worked closely with the Council to find an alternative site which met similar conditions under which the grant was approved by the Victorian Government.  

This required a site that was a similar environment to the original site (Burnley Backyard, Richmond) and that would allow YEF to install a neighbourhood battery with a co-located EV charger, the primary innovative element of the project. 

After consulting with Yarra City Council, the distribution network service provider (DNSP), and the Victorian Government, YEF received approval in January 2024 to install the battery and EV charger at the Collingwood Leisure Centre.  

The battery and EV charger will not directly affect your electricity bill, your retailer contract, or your solar feed-in-tariffs in any way. Most of the changes will happen ‘behind the scenes’ in the local electricity system. The battery will be connected to the grid, like any other property, and will not draw directly from any properties that may export solar energy. Exported energy from any property is likely to be imported and stored in the battery.  


Any short-term impacts may occur from the construction of the battery and EV charging infrastructure. There may be some noise on the days of installation as workers come and go from the area over a period of a few weeks. 

YEF will work closely with Council and relevant stakeholders to adhere to all construction requirements. Residents will be notified of any possible works or traffic disruptions, and YEF will seek to minimise negative impacts of these activities as much as possible.  

During operations, your residence may be part of the same low-voltage network, which is a subnetwork or a “catchment” of the electricity grid, typically providing energy to usually between 100 to 300 houses. Properties on this network may have cleaner energy during their evening consumption on average, as the battery and EV charger will help to time shift both local and remotely generated renewable energy.  

If your residence is not part of the same low-voltage network as the battery, then your property will not directly benefit. However, the battery will still have positive effects on the electricity grid as a whole, such as decarbonisation and the placing of downward pressure on energy prices in a small way.  

The co-located EV charger is also intended for community use. A publicly available EV charger will support those unable to install a charger on their own property and make it easier for those transitioning to EVs.  

The battery does make some noise, however it’s very quiet. The two sources of noise are the air-conditioning fans which help to cool or heat the ambient air around the battery cells to optimise their efficiency. The second source is the sound of the inverter when it converts AC to DC and vice versa.  

The sounds is roughly similar to a dishwasher if you are standing next to one. The factory test of the Pixii PowerShaper battery energy storage system is approximately 63dB at 1 metre from the system.  Given the ambient sounds in the environment, and the attenuation of vegetation and the angle of the battery, it is very unlikely that you will hear it.  

The EV charger does also make some quiet noise when it is charging a car, however it is also likely to be relatively quiet. Electric vehicles are quieter than internal-combustion engine cars, so hopefully the traffic noise in your street will become even quieter over time as more people transition to electric vehicles. 

Still worried about noise? The best way to understand this is to walk by the Fitzroy North battery located at 195-205 McKean Street and experience it for yourself!  

Yes, very safe. The battery is lithium-ion based chemistry, the same technology in your laptop, phone or tablet.

The Pixii PowerShaper model is a highly-sophisticated equipment that meets all of the regulatory standards under Australian law, and includes its own monitoring and ‘thermal runaway’ (heat event) shut down protocols. The risk of fire in these systems is extremely low. YEF has consulted with the battery manufacturer, Energy Safe Victoria, the Distribution Network Service Provider, and taken guidance from the neighbourhood battery guidelines provided by the CFA to ensure the system is as safe as possible.  

YEF plans to invite residents to be part of a voluntary Community Reference Group (CRG), as a platform to learn about the project in detail, provide input, and discuss how the project overall may best serve the community, including its most vulnerable residents.  

Residents who are unable to join the CRG are encouraged to provide feedback directly to YEF by filling out a contact form or emailing information@yef.org.au 

The CRG will be formed in February-March 2024. If you are interested in being part of the CRG, please let us know by emailing tim.shue@yef.org.au or calling (03) 7037 6040.  

Rapid uptake in solar is causing ‘congestion’ in the electricity network; that is, more energy is being exported than the grid can manage. Unfortunately, if this renewable energy can’t be used by the grid or stored, it is wasted or ‘curtailed’. 

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

Currently, household batteries are prohibitively expensive for many people. Community batteries can provide other benefits, these may include: 

  1. Allowing those without solar, such as renters or apartment dwellers, to access more renewable energy, 
  2. Reducing strain on the electricity network caused by high demand or surplus solar exports (‘overvoltage’), 
  3. Avoiding curtailment of new and existing solar installations, increasing the amount of renewable energy available, 
  4. Enabling EV charging stations for local residents, especially those who cannot install one at their home, 
  5. Enabling greater solar installation uptake in the local area, 
  6. Fostering new social connections by bringing the community together towards a common goal, 
  7. Providing an opportunity for local artwork, placemaking and civic pride, 
  8. Providing network-supporting services such as Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), 
  9. Minimising the costs of network augmentation services by the Distribution Network Service Provider, and 
  10. Putting downward pressure on power prices by enabling more renewable energy and reducing network costs. 

Community batteries have the potential to address diverse issues in the energy system while benefitting the community – they can be a win-win for local energy users, for our electricity network, and for enabling more renewable energy.  

Importantly, significantly more storage is needed to enable an electricity system powered by a high percentage of renewable energy. This is because a lot of the renewable energy is variable (subject to sun and wind) and batteries can buffer that energy. 

Because community batteries are still a relatively new part of our energy system, there is no single best operating model. Each new system provides an opportunity to explore alternative features, operational models, and benefit-sharing. Nonetheless, we anticipate our model of community battery to operate as follows: 

  1. The community battery is connected to a ‘low-voltage network’ which can typically provide electricity to between 100-300 premises. The shape of each low-voltage network is variable, but they often extend only a few streets from a ‘distribution substation’, which connect that network to the rest of the grid. Like homes and businesses already connected to the network, the community battery has a meter that records its imports and exports. 
  2. The community battery charges (imports energy) during the peak solar generation hours during the day, usually between 10am-4pm. A neighbourhood with lots of solar generation and low energy consumption during the day (i.e., most residential areas) is likely to have surplus solar energy available. A community battery will absorb that excess energy and store it for when it can be better utilised. This also helps to reduce local ‘overvoltage’ issues from too much solar exports during the day and allows more renewable energy to be produced and consumed locally.  
  3. The community battery discharges during the evening peak demand period (usually 5pm–9pm), reducing the demand on the network and offsetting predominantly fossil fuel generated electricity in the evening.  
  4. The community battery is not directly connected to any other premises – it has its own meter, much like a home or business, and there is no subscription or service fees charged/credited to local households. The battery also trades on the electricity market via a retailer. Engaging in ‘wholesale arbitrage’ (buying and selling electricity) allows the battery to generate revenue. 
  5. The community battery will also generate revenue through the network-supporting Frequency Control Ancillary Service (FCAS) market. 

While this project aims to replicate the success of our Fitzroy North Community Battery project in many ways, it also has two distinct differences.  

Firstly, the battery envisioned for Collingwood Leisure Centre has a slightly higher storage capacity, sized at 120kW/360kWh compared to 120kW/309kWh. This sizing corresponds to four panels including the combined switchboard/meter panel and is a good compromise between storage capacity and the system’s physical footprint. 

Second, this community battery project is designed to have a co-located EV charging station. This will be Australia’s first EV charging station co-located with a community battery. The aim is to explore and demonstrate the innovative opportunities of community batteries. 

The EV charging station will be co-located with the community battery, meaning that the two projects will be implemented at the same location of Collingwood Leisure Centre. The dual charger will service two dedicated wheelchair-friendly EV charging car spaces.  

This EV charging station is designed to be a “climate-and-community-friendly” charging system. It may offer daytime charging at a lower price, when the most renewable content is available on the grid. This would allow users to charge their cars in a climate-friendly way. It may charge a higher price during all other times, ideally with a carbon offset charge, to further encourage daytime charging. 

We may also explore a progressive fee structure which increases if a car is left charging for too long. We want to avoid users from ‘hogging’ a bay and allow for equitable use by site operators and the public. The exact rules and pricing for use of the EV charger will be developed through the course of this project in consultation with the project partners and local residents. 

The EV charging station will likely be a 60kW DC charger which is described as ‘medium-fast’. An hour of charging from could top up an EV’s battery by approximately 150kms1 -  more than enough for an ordinary day’s inner-city driving! And while this is not as fast as some commercial chargers, it is much faster than a standard household’s AC charger, which can take between 4 to 12 hours or more to fully charge an EV. It is more likely that this EV charging station will be used for “topping up” rather than charging from empty to full. 

We encourage you to share your perspectives with us. We see community batteries as opportunities to empower local communities, and enabling residents to shape the project is important to ensuring it is considered a success by everyone involved. 

To provide feedback visit: https://www.yef.org.au/community-batteries/clifton-hill-neighbourhood-battery/  

To learn more about community batteries, we recommend you explore the pages and resources available in the Community Battery section of our website (http://www.yef.org.au/community-batteries/), which includes a list of reports and webinars. 

For those keen to see what a community battery looks like in real life, you can visit the Fitzroy North community battery located at 193-205 McKean Street, Fitzroy North 3068. 

If you’d like to speak to a YEF staff member about this project, please contact Tim Shue at tim.shue@yef.org.au or call (03) 7037 6040. 

No, the battery will not operate like a traditional home battery, but be connected directly to the grid like any other property. The battery will then charge (buy) or discharge (sell) electricity to the grid but physically connected to the low-voltage network (the poles and wires near your home) meaning that the energy it does charge on will hopefully be a higher proportion of locally generated solar energy, and discharged back to that same network typically in the evenings. 

The battery does not directly reduce a household’s energy expenses, as your household’s export and consumption prices set by your personal energy retailer will remain unchanged.  

However, the more batteries operating on the grid, the more downward pressure on energy prices. This is because renewable energy is typically cheaper than fossil fuel energy, and by increasing the renewable energy content in the electricity network, the overall cost of energy should reduce.  

The battery also reduces the need for network upgrade services carried out by the Distribution Network Service Providers, the savings of which should transfer to consumers in the form of lower network fees. 

YEF is exploring the feasibility of a ‘Community Benefits Fund’, into which profits from the operation of the battery and EV charging could be reinvested locally. The Community Reference Group, comprising local residents and stakeholders, will assist YEF to determine the preferences for how profits (if any) could be used. For example, funds could be used to subsidise rooftop solar for low-income households. 

There is no cost to residents. The battery does not cause higher energy prices and there is no service fee associated with the battery. If your property is connected to the battery then it is automatically serviced by the battery at no cost. The battery does not impact your feed-in-tariff from solar exports and you do not need to alter your energy retailer. The only costs will be for customers who wish to charge their EVs from the charger. 

No, there will be no changes to your electricity supply incurred by the operation of the battery. Your supply will function as normal. For customers with solar panels, feed-in-tariffs will not be affected in any way by the community battery. 

The project will not cause any disruptions to your electricity supply. If there are any road closures or other disruptions during the construction process, which isn’t expected to take more than a few days at most, YEF will work with project partners to ensure that all required procedures are followed including public notice to locally affected residents.  

YEF is aiming to complete the project by the end of 2024. 

If you have any specific questions or concerns that are not answered here, please email tim.shue@yef.org.au or call (03) 7037 6040. 

If you have any specific questions or concerns that are not answered here, please email tim.shue@yef.org.au or call (03) 7037 6040.

Have your say

We’d love to hear from you! To have your say, take our online survey.

Community Engagement

YEF is facilitating a Community Reference Group (CRG) to enable community input to the project. The CRG will be made of local stakeholders who will come together to discuss and influence:

  • EV charging operational parameters (such as when and how to charge)
  • Principles for how YEF should price the EV charging
  • What a Community Benefits Fund might look like

Read the Terms of Reference.

Expressions of interest to join the Community Reference Group have now closed.

Community Benefits Fund

As part of the grant, YEF committed to exploring the possibility of redistributing profits (if any) from the operations of the systems back to the local community via a ‘Community Benefits Fund’.

The Community Reference Group will have the opportunity to influence how funds should be disbursed.

At the outset it is uknown how much profit (if any) the system will generate. Based on current knowledge of similar battery and EV charging systems, we expect profits to be nominal.

However, one of the aims of this project is to investigate whether a model like this could be cost effective or replicable. The image below outlines the concept of the Community Benefits Fund and how it could work. Note this is a concept only and subject to change following further community consultation and investigation.