Mr Frischknecht and Mr Bailey.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) hase announced $400,000 in support for Ergon Energy Queensland to explore a new approach for providing solar PV and battery storage systems to residential customers.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the $2.6 million project was part of the growing momentum behind battery storage and could speed up the adoption of renewable energy.

“The market for residential battery storage is rapidly evolving. Understanding the opportunities and barriers associated with this technology will be important in enabling smoother and more effective change,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The project will trial a ‘virtual power plant’ model by installing a number of centrally monitored and controlled solar/storage systems in Cannonvale, Toowoomba and Townsville, Queensland.

“This will show whether systems can be effectively co-ordinated to add value to the network by managing the supply of renewable energy into the grid, performing demand management and reducing network peak load.

“Ergon Energy Retail has agreed to share some key learnings with the energy industry, through ARENA. This will increase the understanding of how residential solar and storage can effectively increase the adoption of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market.”

Ergon will undertake a 12-month pilot demonstration using 33 systems consisting of a 4.9kW SunPower PV array and a 12kWh/5kW Sunverge battery storage and control system.

Mr Frischknecht said Ergon Energy Queensland would investigate and test the customer and technology requirements for and barriers to implementing the business model.

“The pilot will draw on real customer and operational experiences to provide a deeper understanding of the costs and benefits of the model,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Ergon Energy Retail will also explore how its solar PV and battery storage systems can achieve the greatest value on the grid, with a view to proceeding to a commercialisation phase and product launch.

“If this trial proves the potential viability of this type of model, it could open another avenue for Australian consumers, businesses and utilities to benefit from renewable energy.”

According to Ergon Energy’s CEO Ian McLeod,  “This as an important step towards more efficient ways to run electricity networks and also toward giving customers greater choice and control in how they manage their electricity needs.

“We want to be at the forefront of these developments to increase customer service offerings and reduce investment into constrained areas of the network.

“We are expecting the systems to be installed and operational by the end of this year,” said Mr McLeod.

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