Power to the People

Community Batteries for Household Solar

Australia is perfect for rooftop solar, with more than 1 in 5 Australian households already joining the solar revolution.

That’s the highest uptake in the world. But just 1 in 60 households have battery storage – because the upfront costs are still just too high.

The Albanese Labor Government is fixing that for up to 100,000 Australian households, by installing 400 community batteries across the country.

It’s a $200 million investment to cut power bills, cut emissions and reduce pressure on the electricity grid.

And it will allow households that can’t install solar – like apartment owners and renters – to draw from excess electricity stored in community batteries.

Successful applicants for the $29m program administered by Business Grants Hub to deliver a subset of the 400 batteries (Streams 1 & 2) have been announced as of May 30th, 2023. This includes 52 batteries to be placed in 58 of the eligible locations contained in the initial funding streams.

Increasing battery storage across the country is vital to taking full advantage of cheap solar energy.

What is a community battery?

A community battery is typically the size of a 4WD vehicle, and provides around 500kWH of storage that can support up to 250 local households.

Solar households will feed into the battery during the day and draw from the stored energy at night.

Any excess electricity stored in a community battery above local community needs can be sold into the grid when it is needed most – in the early evenings – putting further downward pressure on electricity bills.

While models will be tailored to local needs, community batteries will be funded by the Commonwealth, installed by licensed electricians, and operated by network operators.

Once a battery is installed in a community, providers will invite local households to participate – just like they offer solar and battery schemes now.

It just makes good sense to share a single community battery among up to 250 households instead of expecting every household to pay for the purchase, installation and maintenance of their own battery.

Community battery benefits

Solar households without batteries have to rely on the electricity grid when the sun isn’t shining. Increasing battery storage will:

  • Cut power bills for households – by taking advantage of inexpensive solar energy that can be stored and used at peak times;
  • Cut emissions - by increasing the total use of renewable energy; and
  • Reduce pressure on the grid – by reducing community reliance on the grid at peak times when the sun isn’t shining.

The Australian Energy Market Commission recently flagged a rule change that would charge solar households for feeding energy into the grid.

This proposed rule change highlights the community-wide need for household solar to be supported by battery storage.

Community batteries offer greater economies of scale than household batteries, with lower capital, installation and maintenance costs.

Community batteries also store and distribute electricity more efficiently, by allowing excess solar power to be shared (for example when families are on holidays, or with households unable to install solar).

Community batteries are being rolled out in various locations around Australia. Labor’s support will accelerate the rollout to the benefit of households and the environment.

While grid-scale batteries will play a critical role in our energy future, they don’t allow individual households to directly store and draw from their own solar power.