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ANU to deliver software for Melbourne’s Solar Sponge community battery trial

Australia’s leading researchers on community batteries from the Australian National University (ANU) have signed an agreement with CitiPower and the Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) to deliver tailored software for Victoria’s first community battery network, starting with a trial in the City of Yarra.

The agreement is an extension of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by YEF and Citipower in January this year.

The trial aims to unlock the potential of community-scale battery storage in the Melbourne CBD and inner-city suburbs through a network of batteries, or “solar sponges”, located on the low-voltage electricity network across inner-Melbourne operated by CitiPower.

There are currently no off-the-shelf software products that can handle the complexity of a community battery network like the one proposed in Victoria, which is why the specialist team from the Battery Storage & Grid Integration Program (BSGIP), have joined the project. The BSGIP team has developed technology that is specifically designed for a community battery application, with their research and expertise in community storage an asset for the project.

Andrew Fraser, Leader – Engagement, Standards and Regulation, BSGIP, said, “We are delighted to partner with YEF and Citipower on this important initiative that will see our research and development come to life through community batteries across Melbourne.”

“The partnership allows the research and technology we have developed, to be applied in real world applications that will create real impacts. The learnings then allow us to better target and refine our research,” said Andrew.

While there are a range of options for battery hardware, one of the biggest challenges in the Victorian trial is the software.

“The software will underpin how electricity will be tracked from rooftop solar panels to the battery, and how and when it is discharged from the battery back to consumers and to other services,” said Chris Wallin, YEF’s Community Battery Project Manager.

“We want smart community batteries in the Melbourne Solar Sponge project,” said Chris. “With the addition of this software, the batteries should be able to charge and discharge as energy demand fluctuates during the day.”

“ANU has Australia’s leading experts in community batteries and we are very excited and confident they will be able to deliver the platform for what we hope will be a future network of community batteries,” said Chris.

If you have questions about the community battery trial, contact information@yef.org.au. Subscribe for email updates about the project here.