North Fitzroy community battery
Fitzroy north community battery, Melbourne. Image credit: Matt Krumins

Recent state and federal elections sent a clear message that communities want strong, local democracy and action on climate change. In our research, we’ve been hearing this same message over the past few years when we speak to Australians about what they want from our future energy system. Community batteries align with these values, so it is unsurprising that there is almost universal enthusiasm for this technology from households.

Community batteries, or neighbourhood batteries (a more general term), are a type of mid-scale storage ranging from 0.1 to 5 MW located in front of the meter in the distribution network, connected to a group of households or businesses. The battery may be owned by energy retailers, distribution networks (DNSPs), local councils and community groups or organisations, to provide a wide range of potential services and benefits.

In response to the enthusiasm for community batteries from voters as well as the energy industry more broadly, the Australian Federal and state governments have now collectively committed $300 million to community battery trial schemes.

This project is focused on understanding how to get the best outcomes for consumers from the national roll-out of neighbourhood batteries and communicating that understanding to promote changes in the roll-out to better achieve consumer benefits.

Part of our role as researchers is to identify knowledge gaps, generate robust evidence to inform these gaps and translate this evidence into policy recommendations. Importantly we are building on existing and extensive BSGIP social research around neighbourhood batteries.

The goal of this project is to provide the evidence to inform best consumer outcomes and communicate our recommendations to decision makers. The specific questions this project is researching are:

1) Can neighbourhood batteries minimise rooftop solar curtailment, increase solar export limits for customers? How can we ensure these, and other financial benefits are passed on to all customers, including non-solar owners?

(2) Which neighbourhood battery trial tariffs result in the best outcomes for consumers? 

Project elements

  1. The national community-scale battery working group (CSBWG)

Hosted and organised by BSGIP, the working group runs monthly and is a highly successful example of respectful communication and discussion between academics, industry, energy market bodies, DNSPs, government and community.

2.  Partnerships

Partnerships are essential for this project to achieve the objective of informing the roll-out of neighbourhood batteries in the best interests of consumers. We both inform and are informed by our partners. In particular:

Upskilling and learning from community groups and businesses 

Supporting and learning from network businesses, e.g., by providing evidence-based recommendations for tariffs to trial 

Communicating with industry bodies, and being informed by the work they are doing (e.g. in the DEIP project)  

3.  Communication and impact

This project will deliver targeted research to inform decision makers including governments, electricity networks and regulators. Regular workshops will be held and follow-up reports written and disseminated to stakeholders.

As part of this project we are hosting the second national neighbourhood battery conference to be held on campus at the Australian National University in November 2023.

Related links and publications