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Batteries deployed in world-leading trial

13 June 2017
Helping electricity networks and customers work together

University of Sydney academics are contributing to a world-leading trial of battery systems to assist with reliability and support future energy security in Tasmania’s Bruny Island community.

View from the Neck lookout on Bruny Island. Image courtesy: CONSORT.

View from the Neck lookout on Bruny Island. Image courtesy: CONSORT.

Eleven battery systems recently installed in homes across Bruny were used over the long weekend to help meet the island’s electricity needs as part of the CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial.

“When we used three batteries over Easter, it had a positive impact and helped smooth out the peaks our electricity network typically experiences at that time of year,” said TasNetworks Network Innovation Team Leader Andrew Fraser, CONSORT project member.

“Installs have progressed and we now have 11 batteries to call upon.”

Mr Fraser predicted they would store and make available about 800kWh of energy over the long weekend.

“This is about the same amount of energy the average-sized household uses in a month,” he said.

“Once the installs are completed, up to 35 systems will be in operation. We are expecting them to benefit the Bruny community by substantially reducing our reliance on diesel generation.”

The trial has been strongly embraced by the Bruny community; demonstrating the desire for homeowners to have more choice in the way they use electricity and interact with the network.

The trial is part of a larger research project investigating new ways of allowing battery owners and network providers, such as TasNetworks, to work together to improve the reliability of the electricity grid and enable higher penetration of renewables.

Researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University (ANU) are developing distributed algorithms that automatically coordinate battery systems to support the grid, in exchange for payment to battery owners.

The University of Sydney’s CONSORT project members Dr Gregor Verbic and Dr Archie Chapman, both from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, are investigating the problem of pricing economically efficient non-network solutions to distribution network constraints and voltage management problems, using customer-owned batteries.

“Our approaches are making use of advanced simulation and optimisation methods and sophisticated game-theoretic valuation techniques,” they said.

The installed systems are equipped with technology operated by Reposit Power, which controls the batteries in the best interests of the battery owners.

Social scientists from University of Tasmania will investigate the response of battery owners to this approach.

“In essence, we are trialing the electricity grid of the future,” said ANU Professor Sylvie Thiebaux, CONSORT project leader from the ANU Research School of Computer Science. 

CONSORT project partners – ANU, the University of Sydney, Univeristy of Tasmania, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Reposit Power and TasNetworks – hosted an official launch event for the trial last Thursday, June 8.

The Australian Government, through ARENA, is providing $2.9 million towards the $8 million CONSORT project under its Research and Development program.

Jennifer Peterson-Ward

Media and PR Adviser (Engineering and IT)