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Community Batteries

Learn about Community Batteries

What is a community battery?

A community battery is a mid-scale energy storage unit which is embedded in the electricity network and allows for shared energy storage.

They are usually about the size of 4 large fridges and can provide numerous services to residents, communities, and the electricity grid as a whole. Community batteries are a subset of ‘neighbourhood batteries’, a broader term referring to similar scale batteries, but which do not necessarily directly involve or benefit the community.

Fitzroy North community battery with beautiful artworkPhoto of our Fitzroy North community battery, the first inner-urban community battery in Australia.


Essentially, community batteries act as a ‘solar sponge – storing excess clean, cheap solar energy which is generated by rooftop solar arrays within the community. It stores this energy for later use in the day when demand is higher and the sun no longer shining. This time-shifting of energy allows local residents to use more of the renewable electricity they generate during the day, at the times when it is most needed.

Our community batteries are designed to benefit the neighbourhood as a whole, allowing the wider community to access and store renewable energy whether or not they have solar panels installed. Our community batteries provide power to everyone connected to the same part of the sub-network (or LVN – a ‘low-voltage network’), no matter which energy retailer they use, and without having to sign up or pay a subscription fee.

The Yarra Energy Foundation are leaders within the community battery space. We can help with all aspects of community battery projects, from research and feasibility studies, to management and implementation. You can read more about our community battery services here.

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 this renewable energy can’t be used, stored, or exported to the grid, it is wasted.

Community batteries address this problem by time-shifting – by absorbing and storing excess energy from rooftop solar during the day and releasing it during peak times, such as the evening, when it is needed most.

Time-shifting excess local renewable energies can reduce solar wastage, help put downward pressure on energy prices, lower our reliance on fossil fuels, facilitate more local solar installations, and even assist with stabilisation of the grid as a whole, especially in times of peak demand.

Community batteries are also 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.


A community battery, also sometimes referred to as a ‘neighbourhood battery’, is a type of energy storage that can increase the accessibility and availability of renewable energy for a surrounding neighbourhood.

These batteries are bigger than a home battery. A typical household battery (often used to store rooftop solar energy) might have a storage capacity of 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 for a few hours during peak demand, typically in the evening.

Community batteries can be connected ‘in front of the meter’ to the electricity network; that is, they are located outside of 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.

Community batteries can be owned by electricity distribution businesses or third parties such as community energy groups, electricity retailers, and private investors.

  • Reduces solar waste. Solar PV generates most of its energy during the middle of the day when the sun is shining, but when electricity is often in lowest demand. By absorbing excess solar energy that is generated during the day and exported to the grid, the battery makes this energy available for the evening peak, and makes use of energy which would otherwise be wasted.
  • Allows more solar installations. Community batteries enable the network to support more rooftop solar by time-shifting solar energy generated during the day and discharging it during the evening peak demand period. By easing solar congestion on the local transformer (an asset of the network which transforms energy into the voltage required by households), the electricity grid can handle more incoming solar installations.
  • Network support: By providing services which help to manage electricity congestion in the network, DNSPs (distribution network service providers) can defer the need to make costly network upgrades. By upgrading the network and lowing costs of network maintenance, community batteries put downward pressure on electricity costs.
  • Market services: Community batteries can participate in spot price arbitrage (buying electricity when prices are lower and selling when they are higher) in the wholesale electricity market, which can help to manage the grid and put downward pressure on electricity prices for everyone. They can also provide services which help maintain the security and reliability of the electricity system and reduce the risk of blackouts.
  • Community batteries also have many other intangible benefits such as the fostering of community, placemaking, civic pride, and promoting education about energy and equity.

Community or neighbourhood scale batteries range in storage capacity from approximately 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to five megawatt-hours (MWh), and may service as few as 20 homes up to a small town, depending on the size. YEF’s Fitzroy North community battery has a storage capacity of 309kWh and supplies power to approximately 200 homes during evening peak demand.


Excess solar energy that is exported to the local network by local properties is absorbed by the battery as it charges from the same local network. This energy is then discharged during times of peak demand – usually in the evening. When little or no locally generated solar is available (for example, on cloudy days), the battery charges from the grid. Typically, this electricity has fewer associated carbon emissions since more renewable energy is generated across the grid during the day (for example, by remote wind or solar farms). The battery itself uses lithium-ion technology, the industry standard form of electricity storage for batteries. This is the same technology used for smartphone batteries and electric vehicles. Read about the battery hardware here.

The battery unit makes some noise when it is charging and discharging. This occurs during the day when the sun shines and in the evening, especially during peak demand, but is very quiet at night. Battery systems typically include an air conditioning unit which contributes to the hardware’s noise levels.

However, the noise level is very low. Generally speaking, a community battery could range from about 50-70 decibels at 1 metre from the unit. 50 dB can be equated to the sound of a conversation at home, and 70 dB can be equated to a vacuum cleaner. Note that 50 dB is only 25% as loud as 70 dB because dBA is on a logarithmic scale.

Noise levels do depend on battery model and size, and whether sound is an issue in practice will depend on:

  • Sound treatment within the battery cabinet itself (noise can be managed by installing acoustic panels within or outside of the battery unit)
  • Which direction the battery is facing (where is sound projecting and how might it reflect off surfaces)
  • The natural acoustic properties of the in situ environment (e.g., is it concrete, grass, vegetation, brick walls, or open space)
  • Any environmental sound treatment or insulation as part of the installation
  • The distance from the battery to nearby properties (and how sound will degrade over that distance
  • Any competing ambient sounds (like traffic in the distance) that would drown out the sound of the battery.

For the Fitzroy North Community Battery, the installation design was co-created by YEF, the local community, and the battery supplier Pixii. Together, we ensured that noise is not an issue for local residents, even those living closest to the battery. At the time of procurement, we assessed the PowerShaper as one of the best battery systems for inner-urban residential environments.

Yes, the batteries that YEF has installed are safe. Our selection of suppliers and our testing of their technology follow a rigorous process to ensure that they operate safely and do not pose a fire threat, and operate within Australian standards for Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF).

For the Fitzroy North community battery, YEF worked with a team of engineers from CitiPower (the network distributor), Pixii (the battery supplier), and Ventia (the installer), to ensure safe installation of the battery.

Community batteries provide storage just as EV charging stations do. They can help suburbs to become ‘EV-ready’ and this is likely to be a key consideration for future community battery rollouts. YEF is investigating the addition of a co-located EV charger for another community battery (link to CH1 page) slated for installation at Collingwood Leisure Centre, as part of Round 2 of the Victorian Government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative.

The battery selected for the Fitzroy North community battery, the Pixii PowerShaper, is by far the most sustainable battery model from a lifecycle analysis point of view out of more than a dozen options evaluated through an exhaustive assessment and evaluation process. The battery module manufacturers, Polarium, are the first in the world to announce manufacturing of battery modules made with 100% renewable energy, and up to 95% of the physical materials used in the PowerShaper are recyclable. Read more about the battery selection.

They can, however, it is up to the embedded network operator to initiate the process for embedded network customers. If the community battery was installed outside the embedded network, the embedded network operator could benefit and could pass on the benefit to all of their customers. Communities and developers should engage early in new developments to explore how future communities could benefit from community batteries.

Video Explainers

A short clip on ‘What are community batteries?’ from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Short animated clips ‘The benefits of batteries’ and ‘The battery experience’ from Powercor / CitiPower – the network operator where our Fitzroy North community battery is installed.

Community Battery Resources

Read the Fitzroy North Community Battery projects’ Final Report, and Year 1 Performance Report.



The Neighbourhood Battery Knowledge Hub

The ANU Battery Storage and Grid Integration Programs new resource containing the very latest information and advice on neighbourhood batteries.


Community batteries and their role in the energy transition – Australian National University – Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program (4 mins)



Community battery Q&A – Port Phillip community, 17 March 2022

Community batteries – All-Energy Australia conference, 26 October 2021

Flinders Zero Carbon Community Forum – Community Batteries, hosted by Flinders Zero Carbon Community, 10 October 2021

Yarra Community Battery – information and Q&A #2 Webinar hosted by City of Yarra, 11 September 2021

Yarra Community Battery – Information and Q&A #1 Webinar hosted by City of Yarra, 1 September 2021

Community batteries: the new kid on the block Webinar hosted by Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program, ANU, August 2021

Community Batteries: Getting Ahead of the Curve Webinar hosted by Lighter Footprints, July 2021

What is the role of community batteries in the climate emergency response? Webinar hosted by City of Yarra, April 2021

Reports & articles

Labor drives down energy bills with 100 neighbourhood batteries

The Powerful Neighbours Report: A guide to developing neighbourhood batteries as assets in your community, Powercor, 2022

Neighbourhood batteries in Australia: Anticipating questions of value conflict and (in)justice, Ransan-Cooper et al. Aug 2022

Alkimos Beach Energy Storage Trial – final knowledge sharing report, July 2021. Synergy

Facilitating Community Understanding of Electricity Battery Options for Noosa Shire, June 2021. McLeod, V and Smith, H for Zero Emissions Noosa (ZEN)

Stakeholder views on the potential role of community scale storage in Australia. Ransan-Cooper, H, 2020, Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program, the Australian National University.

Implementing community-scale batteries, 2020. Final report for ARENA-funded project, carried out by the Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program, the Australian National University.

Applying responsible algorithm design to neighbourhood-scale batteries in Australia, Ransan-Cooper et al. 2021, Nature Energy

The Victorian Neighbourhood Battery consultation, 2021. Victorian Government.

Community battery meeting wrap, 2021 – Lighter Footprints

Community batteries are coming. Are you ready?, 2021 – Lighter Footprints

Ausgrid Community Battery Feasibility Study, February 2020