Community battery a first step for renewable energy in Docklands
By David Schout & Sean Car
The state government has announced a new community battery for Docklands, which will give locals small businesses owners without roof access the chance to benefit from renewable energy.
The battery, charged by rooftop wind and solar during the day and released back into the energy grid when most needed, is set to be located at Library at the Dock.
It is one of the first of a series of neighbourhood-scale batteries to be installed by the City of Melbourne as part of its Power Melbourne project.
Victorian Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio announced two new neighbourhood batteries in Richmond and Docklands — which, combined, would cost $1.5 million — in November as part of the government’s ambition to “slash emissions and power bills”.
In the lead-up to the November 26 Victorian Election, Premier Daniel Andrews then made a commitment to install 100 neighbourhood batteries across the state.
Neighbourhood-scale batteries increase energy stability and enable the grid to support more rooftop solar by storing generated electricity during the day and discharging it back at night.
The Library at the Dock battery will be a 150kW/300kWh system — a one-megawatt capacity (1000kWh) system is equivalent to powering 2000 average homes for around two hours.
So, while the battery alone would not make a pronounced improvement on both the price of energy and the consumption of “greener” power, it represents a solid first step to the council’s aim of being 100 per cent powered by renewable energy by 2030. Many Docklanders cannot install their own rooftop solar panels and were worried about the extra cost of green power.
The council has said that locals and business owners will eventually be able to sign up to a Power Melbourne electricity plan for “reliable, affordable, renewable energy”.
“Neighbourhood batteries capture more power from rooftop solar during the day and feed it back in the evening, sharing the cost savings of solar with local communities,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council was “thrilled” that the state government was getting behind its “ambitious” Power Melbourne project, which presented “exciting opportunities for emissions reductions, as well as job creation and the local economy”.
“This innovative renewable energy initiative will also make it easier and more affordable for local residents and small businesses to access clean energy sources – something that’s important to so many Melburnians,” Cr Capp said.
In 2019 City of Melbourne councillors declared a climate and biodiversity “emergency”, and have said this was done to “bring a focus to our efforts and investments”.
Addressing the Zero-Carbon Jobs Summit on November 23, held at RMIT University as part of the Victorian Cleantech Expo, the Lord Mayor said council facilities were already 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, however the wider goal was far greater.
“Every light on our streets, every barbecue in our parks and every treadmill in our recreation centres is powered by renewable energy,” she said.
“Our next renewable energy endeavour, Power Melbourne, builds on that remarkable success. It will establish a network of coordinated neighbourhood-scale batteries to deliver more renewable energy into the grid – ensuring that Melbourne is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and achieves zero net emissions by 2040.”
“But Power Melbourne will also rally a wave of innovation in the mid-scale battery sector. It will encourage greater uptake of renewables and create opportunities for research, training and jobs in the green technology sector.”
She has said Power Melbourne was a “lead project” in the wider renewable energy by 2030 push.
The council says it is exploring a range of other locations throughout the city for battery assets, including Council House 2, Queen Victoria Market and land owned by Power Melbourne partners. Community consultation for the neighbourhood batteries closed on November 4 and the council is expected to announce its successful retail partner for Power Melbourne in December. •