Rooftop solar and batteries

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced round one of its Community Battery Funding program, with 370 projects conditionally granted a total of $143 million. 

All states, and the Northern Territory, are expected to benefit from the program, which is designed to unlock $359 million of investment in renewable energy infrastructure. 

Once online, the batteries are expected to have a tangible impact on local network constraints, expand rooftop solar capacity, reduce emissions and reduce electricity costs for consumers.  

The range of energy consumers that are expected to benefit from these batteries include households, hospitals, schools and tertiary education institutions, council facilities, housing developments, social and community housing, sports facilities, libraries, aquatic centres, shopping centres and regional and remote communities. 

ARENA Chief Executive Officer, Darren Miller, said community batteries will enhance energy resilience, reliability and sustainability while bringing down energy costs for consumers and businesses. 

“ARENA is pleased to support the roll out of these batteries through our transformative program which will have a significant impact upon Australia’s energy and grid security while delivering cleaner and more cost-effective energy for our communities. We are encouraged to see this important asset class being demonstrated at such a scale and expect that this funding round will kick start the neighbourhood-scale storage sector.” 

The 2022–2023 Federal Budget allocated $200 million for the Community Batteries for Household Solar Budget Measure to deploy 400 community batteries across Australia. Of this, $171 million was allocated to ARENA to deliver at least 342 batteries, with the remainder being delivered by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). 

ARENA received a strong response under round one, with 140 eligible Expressions of Interest received. Funding has been conditionally allocated to 21 applications from 20 applicants; ten applications requesting $67.3 million under Stream A Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs), and eleven applications requesting $75.7 million under Stream B Non-DNSPs. 

The batteries will have an aggregated storage capacity of up to 281MWh, which will enable storage and use of renewable electricity generated across Australian communities. ARENA will contribute up to $0.51/Wh in grant funding against an average cost of $1.28/Wh (39.8 per cent). 

Specific locations for the batteries are yet to be finalised and are subject to community consultation, planning approvals and entry into commercial agreements. All ARENA funding is conditional on the finalisation of funding agreements with each successful applicant. 

ARENA expects to launch a second round of community battery funding in late 2024, with a funding allocation of at least $28 million. 


Stream A (DNSPs) 

  • Ausgrid (NSW) 
  • Endeavour Energy (NSW)
  • Energex (2 applications, QLD) 
  • Ergon Energy (QLD) 
  • Horizon Power (WA) 
  • Power and Water Corporation (NT) 
  • SA Power Networks (SA) 
  • Tasmanian Networks (TAS) 
  • Western Power (WA) 

 Stream B (Non-DNSPs) 

  • Department for Energy and Mining (SA) 
  • Enel X Australia (Multiple states) 
  • FRV Services Australia (VIC) 
  • Indigo Power (Multiple states) 
  • Gemlife (Multiple states) 
  • Hydro Tasmania (Multiple states) 
  • Mondo Power (VIC) 
  • Next Green Group (Multiple states) 
  • Shell Energy Retail (NSW) 
  • Transport for NSW (NSW) 
  • ZEN Energy Retail (NSW) 

Industry response 

The announcement was welcomed by Western Power, which said that it will install more community batteries across the South West Interconnected System thanks to the funding. 

Western Power Executive of Energy Transition and Sustainability, Matt Cheney, said, “We are very pleased to have been a successful applicant in the program which will see more community batteries installed on Western Power’s network.”   

The community batteries will enable greater storage and use of renewable energy, which will reduce emissions and ease pressure on the network during peak times.  

“This funding support from ARENA will help accelerate the deployment of community batteries across the network,” Mr Cheney said. 

“Not only will it help reduce or remove barriers to future deployment of much needed storage on the network, it will also assist in building the required industry capability.” 

Mr Cheney said community batteries play an important role in contributing to decarbonisation goals as they can soak up excess renewable energy generation from surrounding rooftop solar and facilitate the connection of even more renewable energy to the network.  

“The new batteries will add to our existing community battery fleet which we have been deploying since 2018,” Mr Cheney said. 

Battery storage has an important role to play in the evolution of how energy is distributed and used across the electricity network. Community batteries are connected to the grid and can store excess solar energy from households in that area, help to avoid building more network by reducing peak electricity demand and can also be used to smooth the flow of power on the local network and assist with keeping the electricity system stable. 

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved


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