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Amid Net Zero Drive, Australian Government Installs First ‘Community Battery’ out of 400

The Albanese government, in collaboration with Ausgrid, has commissioned its first community battery in Sydney, in line with its election campaign to deliver greener energy for households.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy switched on the community battery in Cabarita, Sydney on Sept. 8, the first among the 400 community batteries under the government’s Community Batteries for Household Solar program.

The Department said that the new 412-kilowatt-hour battery will store power for 50 households with rooftop solar and distribute that energy to around 150 households. The battery can also charge around 20 EV chargers at once.

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“I’m thrilled our Cabarita community battery is up and running. It shows the commitment this government has to greening our grid and sharing the benefits of clean and reliable renewable energy with all households,” local Labor MP for Reid, Sally Sitou, said in a statement.

According to Ausgrid, with the new battery, solar energy generated from homes in Cabarita can now be stored locally during the day. This reduces the need to purchase more costly power from the grid when there is no sun shining.

“We estimate New South Wales consumers could save up to $20 billion if community batteries replaced half the expected home batteries, with the added benefits of continuing to put downward pressure on peak energy prices while maintaining grid stability,” Ausgrid CEO Marc England said.

“By 2030, with the right regulatory arrangements, we could deliver more than one to two gigawatts of storage, leading to increased electricity system security and reliability for our customers.”

In February 2021, Ausgrid launched its first community battery in Beacon Hill, the first of its kind on Australia’s east coast.

Ausgrid said that its community batteries will be rolled out in Bondi, Cammeray, Narara, North Epping, and Warriewood over the coming months.

Ausgrid added that it will be co-installing community-based renewable energy projects to further expand access to renewable energy transmission. This includes the installation of a 42 kW solar array in the Cabarita Swimming Centre, which according to the electricity distribution company, is more than six times the size of an average household solar system.

A total of $224.3 million of the October 2022–23 federal budget has been allocated for the deployment of 400 community batteries to provide shared storage for up to 100,000 households across Australia. The Climate Department is executing the first round of the program, which includes 58 community batteries.

Earlier this week, the New South Wales (NSW) government said that it would further invest $1.8 billion to boost the state’s transition to clean energy, which would involve investment in community batteries.

The NSW government said that it will allocate $1 billion from Restart NSW for the establishment of the Energy Security Corporation, which would invest in projects such as community batteries to assist more households in using their rooftop solar to become self-sufficient.

An $800 million will be earmarked for the Transmission Acceleration Facility to accelerate the linking of NSW’s Renewable Energy Zones to the grid.

The Climate Council, which earlier called on NSW Premier Chris Minns, said that such initiatives are what NSW needs, especially as Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, is slated to close in 2025.

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