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Community batteries could aid Australia’s sustainable future

Australia has been a leader in rooftop solar, to make even better use of this renewable source of energy, the installation of community batteries can provide benefits to end users, grid operators, and energy retailers.

As more houses and buildings in Australia install solar panels, community batteries are one way that neighbourhoods can reduce overall energy usage, and households can reduce their energy bills.

Managing director of Clean Tech Controls Steve Bell said, “Community batteries provide benefits for the energy user, the grid operator, and the energy retailer, so it’s likely that we’ll see more installed as Australia ramps up its transition to renewable energy. ”

Clean Tech Controls is an Australian manufacturer of switchboards and associated technology, with particular expertise in renewable energy, including complex installations that connect to the grid.

Community batteries are typically installed in residential areas, where they allow people to sell their excess solar back into the grid. Anyone with solar panels and a connection can rent a portion of the battery, allowing them to reap the benefits of that battery, without the upfront costs.

“For people with rooftop solar, they can save power generated during the day in the battery, and access it again at night, instead of drawing on grid power,” said Bell.

The Australian PV Institute reports there are over 3.69 million PV (photovoltaic) installations in Australia.

According to data from SunWiz, Australia has been the top global leader in rooftop solar PV penetration, with nearly one in three Australian homes (approx. 3.3 million households) today featuring solar panels.

“Investing in renewable energy helps drive down the local energy price, supports local industry and local manufacturing, and helps Australia develop a world-class export market for our green power – and community batteries are a part of the solution,” said Bell.

There are a range of different ownership and control options for community batteries, which is why integrated SCADA communication is essential in the switchboard.

“Ownership and control are complicated by the fact that on the east coast and in South Australia, grid owners (DNSPs) are not allowed to buy or sell power – only an energy retailer can do this, and it must be on the National Energy Market (NEM),” said Bell.

Community battery installations typically have capacities of 200-500 kWh and are made up of three key technologies, the battery, the inverter, and the switchboard. Clean Tech Controls supplies the switchboards to these types of installation across Australia, and says experience is vital in setups with complex controls, communications, and programming requirements.

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