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Community Batteries

Fitzroy North Community Battery

On 5 June 2022, YEF launched Victoria’s first inner-urban community battery in Fitzroy North. Known colloquially as ‘FN1’, the Fitzroy North Community Battery Project was funded by the Victorian Government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, an initiative which has made great leaps in developing the role of community batteries in Australia.

Implemented for the community, and with community say on project specifics, the battery has helped to stabilise the grid and time-shift excess local solar energy from its daytime generation to the evening peak when it is needed most.

FN1 has also helped to eliminate solar waste, place downward pressure on energy prices, enable more solar installs, and increase community-wide access to locally-produced renewable energy.

You can read a list of commonly asked questions about the Fitzroy North battery below.

Final Report

The Fitzroy North Community Battery was Victoria’s first inner-urban community battery, unveiled on 5th June 2022 by the Victorian Minister for Climate Action, the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio. The project has been a huge success for the Fitzroy North community and for the ever-evolving community battery landscape itself.

YEF has released its Final Report which discusses the project’s major steps, our community engagement process, and the many lessons we learnt along the way. The Final Report can be used as a guide to assist in planning and decision-making for future community battery projects in your area.

Year 1 Performance Report

As a groundbreaking community battery project, YEF is proud to have released FN1’s much-anticipated Year 1 Performance Report.

The report offers valuable insights into the operational, technical and financial performance of the battery and how it has helped to create energy equity after one year of operation. The report also provides advice for future potential battery energy storage system projects.

Community Engagement

As part of the Fitzroy North Community Battery Project, we engaged with the local community to gain valuable insights into how people think and feel about community batteries.

We established a Community Reference Group (CRG) which enabled interested local residents to have an influential role in certain aspects of the project. Some of the key activities we undertook as part of that commitment included online drop-in sessions, letter drops and webinars.

Group of a dozen people standing on a grassy verge with hands in the air celebrating a community battery project

The CRG advised on key considerations such as:

  • Noise concerns
  • Visual impact
  • Size / footprint
  • Final location / positioning
  • Safety
  • Risk of graffiti / tagging

Throughout the process we were guided by YEFs Principles of Engagement.

We were committed to being transparent and honest with the community about the project’s goals and progression. We actively listened and responded comprehensively to community concerns and comments. We openly communicated what the community could influence, and how their input would shape decision making. We built trust by listening to the ideas, knowledge and perspectives that were shared with us.

To read more about the community engagement for our Fitzroy North community battery project see our Final Report.

You can find out more about the Community Engagement services we offer here.


The Fitzroy North Community Battery (known colloquially as 'FN1') assisted in the achievement of the objectives of the Victorian Government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI), under which the project was funded 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.

In its own right, however, the Fitzroy North Community Battery met its objectives to:

  • Store and redistribute excess solar energy from local roofs
  • Share stored energy across all properties on the same low voltage network (LVN), not just those with rooftop solar
  • Reduce the likelihood of local overvoltage
  • Reduce solar waste
  • Demonstrate that community batteries can be financially viable
  • Promote energy equity, and
  • Support decarbonisation of our electricity network.

As Victoria’s first inner-urban community battery, FN1 was a huge success and has paved the way for more community batteries in Australia’s evolving electricity network. Unlike a household battery, the community battery leverages economies of scale and is likely to be a more cost-effective way to store and dispatch renewable energy as our homes and network electrify and decarbonise.

For this project, YEF and local network services provider CitiPower selected a site in Fitzroy North on CitiPower-owned land, located at 193-205 McKean Street.

The battery location was decided in consultation with the community and other stakeholders. The main factors influencing the decision included:

  • available physical space
  • community support
  • areas of network constraints (congestion in the network)
  • levels of existing rooftop solar in the area
  • land access and ownership
  • accessibility for maintenance and operations
  • planning regulations.

Key considerations as advised by the Community Reference Group included:

  • Noise concerns of the site
  • Visual impact at the site
  • Physical battery size and footprint
  • Final positioning of the battery
  • Safety and risk of graffiti / tagging at the site

Each of these items were worked through together with the project partners and the Community Reference Group. Read more about our community engagement process.

FN1 is considered a pilot or trial in the sense that the project tried out new ways of storing and providing community access to renewable energy.

This included testing a range of facets needed to determine how to install and operate a community battery in an inner-urban environment efficiently and equitably. Aspects included how a battery would technically and physically be connected to the grid and how the battery software would assess when to charge and discharge electricity from the battery according to demand or changes in the grid.

The project was funded by the Victorian Government through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP, now the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action – DEECA) Neighbourhood Battery Initiative.


Distance is not a determining factor per se with regards to which properties are on the same part of the grid as the battery. A low voltage network (LVN) is the local part of the electricity network that your property is connected to. This is part of the fixed infrastructure and can only be changed by a Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP), the companies which maintain and operate the electricity network. Residents on the same part of the electricity network as FN1 will not need to subscribe, pay any fees, or switch electricity retailer to benefit from the battery’s functioning. The primary benefit is that more use will be made of excess daytime renewable energies which these properties export to the grid. The battery also helps to put downward pressure on electricity prices by discharging higher renewable-content electricity during times of peak demand, which is typically during the evenings when most people are home using electricity, and also when electricity prices are highest.

A single battery system made up of four cabinets was installed at the site, including switchboard gear and inverter. This provides enough battery storage capacity to service a neighbourhood of up to 200 households during the evening peak demand period. Read about our battery selection here.

The Fitzroy North Community Battery is a PowerShaper Batter Energy Storage System (BESS) made by battery manufacturer Pixii. In terms of power and capacity, the Fitzroy North Community Battery is 110kW/309kWh, and is about the size of four large fridges.

Generally speaking, community battery size depends on the capacity of the battery. Community batteries may range in storage capacity from 100 kilowatt-hours (suitable for tens of households) to five megawatt-hours (a few hundred homes). The more energy they are able to store, the larger the physical size of the unit. Site location and available land can also determine the size of the battery, as well as the decision to use multiple smaller batteries rather than a single larger unit.

FN1 has a life expectancy of at least 10 years, but this is subject to the formal period of the pilot based on YEF’s funding arrangement with DELWP. Depending on how rapidly technology changes over the coming years, and the demand from the local community for existing and future services such as EV charging, it may be necessary to expand or replace the battery units. The good news is that the Pixii PowerShaper battery unit is highly modular and can be expanded and its battery modules replaced as required.

No, this is not the first trial of a neighbourhood-scale battery in Victoria. There are other projects, including pole-mounted batteries installed and operated by United Energy, and a Yackandandah community battery, as well as more batteries which have come online since FN1 was unveiled. However, these projects differ from FN1in a number of ways, including how the community batteries are intended to be owned and operated. This trial is exploring a number of firsts, including a design that can benefit all energy users in an area, not just solar customers.

A community battery pilot of this kind (in an inner-urban environment, close to residential properties) has not been done elsewhere in Australia, as far as we know. There are, however, a number of other community battery trials around Australia that are investigating different outcomes, and exploring different models to the one we are pursuing in Yarra. The first community battery trials in Australia were run from 2016-2021 in Western Australia and the findings from that project are available here.


There are two main aspects of the FN1 project which are very different to all other community battery trials and installations in Australia at the time FN1 was unveiled.
The first aspect is that our battery provides more renewable energy to everyone connected to the low voltage network (the part of the grid that the battery is connected to). The benefits of other well-known community battery examples are only available to solar customers, whereas ours are open to everyone, including renters and those without rooftop solar.
The second aspect is the funding and ownership model. We are pursuing an outcome which would enable the battery to be owned by a third-party, which is neither a network operator nor an electricity company.

At the outset, YEF will operate this battery as the grant recipient from the Victorian Government. However, lessons learned from this trial will direct decisions for the best operation and ownership models.

This is the hope, however it will depend on the outcomes and lessons learned. Provided there is a sustainable business case and community support, YEF and project partners would expect the battery to remain operational for its lifetime (at least 10 years), provided this is beneficial to the local community and the community supports its continuation.

Read about our community engagement approach and timeline.

YEF and project partners, including Yarra City Council, consulted widely with the broader Yarra community before conducting targeted engagement and consultation activities with the trial site residents and businesses.

YEF and Yarra City Council formed a Community Reference Group (CRG) made up of several local residents of Fitzroy North. The CRG met to discuss many aspects of the battery project including how community batteries work, what role they play in the energy transition, and how any concerns about noise and safety could be addressed. The CRG also informed the design and location of the community battery and impacted YEF’s decision-making at various points as the project progressed.

YEF engaged CitiPower, the local electricity network provider, as well as the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP, now the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action – DEECA), and experts from the Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program (BSGIP) researchers at The Australian National University.

YEF also engaged community climate groups on community batteries through the Metropolitan Community Power Hub, which was a separate project led by YEF and funded by Sustainability Victoria.

The funding for this project was provided by the Victorian Government through the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, and was announced in August 2021.

No. Our model is independent of the feed-in-tariff system. Solar households will still receive their existing feed-in tariff when they export surplus solar energy to the grid. The FN1 battery simply makes use of the excess solar energy which is already fed back onto the grid, and supplies it back to houses at night.

Community batteries help to put downward pressure on electricity prices. This is achieved by increasing the network’s supply of electricity during peak demand periods such as during the evening, when the grid can struggle to provide everyone with the amounts of energy that they need. By giving the network this extra supply, prices should go down over time. However, the impact on electricity prices are unlikely to be noticeable from a single battery system.
As above, the FN1 battery does not alter the feed-in-tariff received by connected solar households when they export during the day. Neither does the battery alter the prices that all households on the network pay through their retailer when they consume energy. This is because the price of your household’s energy is set by your retailer, not by the battery.
However, by increasing the supply of local electricity during peak periods, retailers may lower their prices as more and more batteries are implemented. On its own, the FN1 battery is a small but important innovation, but as more and more communities use the power of battery storage to harness their local energies, the greater the effects will be.

Visit www.yef.org.au/community-batteries to learn more. You can contact YEF via information@yef.org.au at any time if you have questions about the FN1 Battery Project. Make sure to subscribe to YEF’s newsletter to receive regular updates about our projects.


During the community engagement process, the CRG proposed to have the system painted and selected the artist for the job.

Without any prompt from YEF, the CRG brought up the idea of painting the system, which was endorsed by YEF and Pixii. We saw this as an excellent opportunity to turn the battery into a work of art and become the talking point of the neighbourhood.

Yarra City Council’s art procurement officer assisted the CRG in procuring the artist. A selection panel made up of the CRG and YEF’s Chief Operating Officer was formed to evaluate 4 submissions out of 5 invited artists.

The winner was local artist Hayden Dewar, and his concept was chosen for its original design and strong alignment with the role of the storage system. ‘Set the controls to harness the sun’ describes the transition to a renewable future with the help of ‘Solarquins’, little characters enlivened by the sun, by recycling the old and ushering in the future.

Artist Hayden Dewar


Arrange a visit

The community battery is located at 193-205 McKean Street, Fitzroy North.

Everyone is welcome to visit the battery and enjoy the artwork by Hayden Dewar.

If you or your organisation would like a guided tour, please contact us at information@yef.org.au to find out more.