In an Australian first, AusNet Services is trialling a one megawatt (MW) ‘network’ battery to support the electricity grid during peak demand periods.

Housed in four 20-foot shipping containers in a Thomastown industrial estate, the battery system – known as the Grid Energy Storage System (GESS) – is the company’s latest innovation to efficiently meet peak demand and reduce investment.

AusNet Services Managing Director, Nino Ficca, said that the use of network storage may be the next frontier in demand management.

“As an electricity distribution business, we’re committed to finding the right balance between safety, reliability and costs to our customers,” Mr Ficca said.

“As such, we focus on innovative solutions to provide our customers with a reliable supply on the handful of peak demand days each year, which importantly delays or offsets network upgrades.”

“The network battery trial complements these existing demand management solutions, which include mobile generators, critical peak demand tariffs, embedded generators, and large customer contracts to curtail demand on peak demand days,” he said.

Having commenced in December 2014, the two-year trial, in partnership with ABB Australia and Samsung SDI, centres on using a portable 1MW battery system to automatically provide local support into the 22kV grid at peak demand periods and recharging during low demand periods.

The battery can operate at full power for one hour, supplying approximately 300 homes. The system also includes a 1MW diesel generator as a secondary supply to extend supply for full coverage of the peak demand period. The system can also transition to island mode to provide power as part of a mini grid when parts of the network become isolated.

The first of its type and scale to be conducted in Australia, GESS will also aim to improve the quality of power delivery, providing active and reactive power support and other power quality functions when connected to the network.

“This trial will establish if a battery system is a credible, cost efficient, non-network solution to meet peak demand,” Mr Ficca said.

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