Duration: Phase 1 two years, 2021-2022
Neighbourhood batteries are a nascent technology poised to contribute significantly to energy system transformation in Victoria and Australia more generally. Neighbourhood batteries are defined as having capacity in the range of hundreds to thousands of kW and being located in front of the meter, that is between households and the electricity grid. Interest in this form of energy storage is stimulated by the challenges of integrating increasing distributed energy resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar, into a centralised grid, and the concerns of households, communities and governments in relation to energy security and climate change.
Neighbourhood batteries have the potential to provide a range of benefits to communities and the energy system, including balancing supply and demand, increasing network capacity for renewables, postponing network upgrade investments, enabling community energy self-sufficiency and sharing, and lowering electricity prices, as well as indirect benefits in creating models for participatory governance, building community and increasing the diversity and resilience of the energy system.
The purpose of our research in the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI) is:
- to investigate the diverse contributions and impacts of neighbourhood batteries and to provide data and tools for understanding and monitoring these impacts as neighbourhood batteries are more widely adopted, and
- to provide leadership in the development and implementation of neighbourhood batteries, providing ‘how to’ guidance, capacity and models that will meet diverse community needs, mitigate negative impacts and promote positive impacts, and ultimately improve social and environmental outcomes.
The key deliverables of the NBI are:
- Neighbourhood Battery Guidelines
- Neighbourhood Battery Impact Framework
- Evaluation of neighbourhood batteries compared to other storage options
The research is ‘transformation oriented’ and practical, in not only seeking to understand system changes, but in actively contributing to shifts towards a decarbonised, resilient and just energy system, and in generally seeking changes towards a better future. In this vein, the project aims to open up the concept of neighbourhood batteries to encourage new ways of thinking and acting in an energy policy field that generally conceives of ‘value’ in very narrow terms. As such, rather than (only) documenting how neighbourhood batteries are being conceived in Australia, (e.g. what drives these technologies, what narratives, values etc underpin them), our focus in Phase 1 of this project is also on how we could roll out neighbourhood batteries to better meet communities’ complex and diverse needs. Importantly, our research extends beyond technical and economic aspects of energy technologies to consider a range of social dimensions, including public participation, distributional issues, accountability and democracy, and environmental dimensions, including decarbonisation, energy and resource use, and life cycle impacts.
Find out more:
- Evaluating and tracking impacts of neighbourhood batteries
- Victoria’s first inner-urban community battery heralds in a new age in shared renewable energy storage
- Neighbourhood batteries: If you want to bring power to the people, you need to listen to what they want
- Victorian Government Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action Neighbourhood Battery Initiative
- Neighbourhood-batteries-in-Australia, PV Tech Power journal article
- Algorithms are driving the digitisation of our energy system – we must design them responsibly, Blog post by Dr Marnie Shaw.
A mutually beneficial approach to electricity network pricing in the presence of large amounts of solar power and community-scale energy storage. Energy Policy, Vol 159, December 2021
Applying responsible algorithm design to neighbourhood-scale batteries in Australia. Nature Energy, July 2021. Full text free version.