What is a community battery?
A community battery, also sometimes referred to as a “neighbourhood battery”, is a type of energy storage that can increase peoples’ accessibility and availability of renewable energy.
These batteries are bigger than a home battery. While a typical household battery (often used to store rooftop solar energy) might have a power capacity up to about 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh). This might be enough to power your average household for a day. On the other hand, community batteries range from 100 kWh to five megawatt-hours (MWh) in capacity, enough to power a small neighbourhood.
Community batteries can be connected ‘in front of the meter’ to the electricity network, that is, they are located away from your home or property and connected to the local network as a standalone unit. A community battery would typically be located at the street level close to where electricity is being consumed and generated. It would ideally be placed somewhere towards the middle of the “feeder”, and close enough to specific electricity infrastructure such as a “transformer”, so that they can operate effectively and deliver services efficiently to the community.
A feeder is a cable or line that carries power from a transformer along a street, typically overhead supported by power poles, but it can also be buried underground. Supply to each property is provided by a smaller cable from the feeder to a box on the side of a house or building.
A transformer is a common electrical device that is either ground-mounted or pole-mounted. The pole-mounted transformers have lower capacity but are very common in suburban neighbourhoods. The purpose of a transformer is to ‘transform’ the voltage of electricity from 11,000 volts or 22,000 volts to the voltage that we use at home, 230 volts, or 415 volts if you have three phases coming into your property.
Community batteries can be owned by electricity distribution businesses or third parties such as community energy groups, electricity retailers, aggregators, and private investors.