PowerBank trial

Synergy and Western Power are extending the PowerBank trial to give eligible homes in the Perth suburb of Ellenbrook the chance to virtually store energy from their solar panels.

Following the success of the initial trial in Meadow Springs in 2018, the trial was also extended into the neighbouring Peel region suburb of Falcon in November 2019.

PowerBank is the first time in Australia that a utility-scale battery has been integrated into an already-established major metropolitan network and provides an alternative storage option for residents.

Customers on the original trial in Meadow Springs collectively saved around $11,000 off their power bills.

As part of the latest trial, a 116kW Tesla battery has been connected to the electricity grid in both Ellenbrook and Falcon, allowing households with rooftop solar panels to optimise their existing solar generation by virtually storing excess energy.

Each customer participating in the 24-month PowerBank 2 trial will have a choice of either 6kWhs or 8kWhs of virtual storage, at a cost of $1.60 or $1.90 per day respectively, for the excess power generated during the day from their solar PV systems.

They will then be able to draw electricity back from the PowerBank during the afternoon and evening peak time without having to outlay upfront costs for a behind-the-meter battery storage system.

Synergy CEO, Jason Waters, said the importance of Synergy and Western Power joining forces to develop the PowerBank trials provides valuable learnings as to how battery storage technology can be beneficial to customers.

“There is so much to learn about how to integrate battery storage technology into the sector, as we move away from the traditional centralised generation and network model, to a future that increasingly incorporates distributed energy resources, such as battery storage deployed at individual customer and community-scale levels,” Mr Waters said.

“We know more of our customers want to know how they can benefit from battery storage technology in the future and want Synergy to partner with them directly to find solutions.”

Western Power acting Chief Executive Officer, Dave Fyfe, said the investment in grid-connected community batteries, like the PowerBank trial, would continue as it delivered benefits beyond just battery storage.

“Community batteries don’t only provide immediate, cost-effective solar storage options, they also have a collective benefit of smoothing out power supply to all customers in the area and opening up the capacity for more solar to be installed in the future,” Mr Fyfe said.

“We are in the process of identifying several locations that will deliver almost immediate benefit from the installation of a community battery and we are working to roll out batteries to these areas by the middle of this year.”

There are no lock-in contracts for homes taking part in the trial, which will give greater flexibility and choice to customers in deciding how they meet their individual electricity needs.

Customers will be billed monthly and receive seasonal updates on the savings they are making under the trial, as well as tips and information on how they can improve their energy use.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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