The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $2.9million in funding to a new trial that will allow customers to use battery storage and potentially sell power back to the grid.

The trial project, CONSORT, is a collaborative research project between The Australian National University, The University of Sydney, University of Tasmania, battery control software business, Reposit Power, and network provider TasNetworks.

The project will run for three years and involve the installation and monitoring of up to 40 batteries in the homes of residents of Bruny Island in Tasmania.

The batteries will include Reposit’s energy management software that allows homeowners to sell their power back to the grid.

Bruny Island was selected as the location for the trial due to its unique combination of network limitations and customer desire of taking charge of energy use. The new technology will enable battery system owners and networks to work together to maximise the value of solar energy.

CONSORT project lead Professor, Sylvie Thiebaux, from The Australian National University said Australia’s high residential solar uptake is pushing networks to their technical limits.

“Customers want innovative solutions that don’t involve costly augmentation to the network or the need to restrict further renewable uptake,” Ms Thiebaux said.

As part of the project, researchers at the University of Tasmania will assess how battery owners involved respond to, and interact with, the new technology.

University of Tasmania Associate Professor, Heather Lovell, said, “CONSORT incorporates social science research, which will be important in enabling us to establish whether new technical solutions really work for the battery system owners using them.

“CONSORT is aiming to demonstrate how networks and battery system owners can solve network constraints, enable more renewables and be fairly rewarded for their efforts.”

TasNetworks Innovation Team Leader, Andrew Fraser, said CONSORT could expect more widespread deployment of its technology in the future.

“We anticipate this solution will carry over to other types of customer systems including electric vehicles, hot water heating and smart appliances,” Mr Fraser said.

CONSORT is one of nine new research and development projects supported by ARENA though its latest renewable funding round.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the funding creates clear pathways for renewable energy technologies to move from the laboratory to field by fostering collaboration between research institutions and industry.

“Each successful project is focussed on delivering commercially viable solutions, aimed at solving a current industry challenge. The rich array of industry partners shows the breadth of sectors that will be involved in the transformation of Australia’s energy networks and systems,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“ARENA’s $17million funding is leveraging substantial contributions from private and public sectors, with combined project values totalling more than $55million. This will tap into our home-grown ingenuity and complement our existing portfolio of 144 Research and Development projects.”

TasNetworks will begin consulting Bruny Island residents about the project over the coming months and seeking expressions of interest via public forums on the island later in 2016.

During the project, The Australian National University, will research new improved algorithms for network management using distributed energy storage. The results of this research will be used to improve the autonomous operation of energy storage.

The University of Sydney is investigating what tariff structures best reflect the value of energy storage to the networks and what incentives are required for customers to install and use batteries in the most beneficial way for both networks and customers.

While, The University of Tasmania is investigating the social aspects of energy storage and how it influences customer behaviour and Reposit Power is supplying the energy management and data collection software. TasNetworks is trialling customer-led solutions to network limitations.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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