Community battery a step closer for Southbank
The federal government will provide the City of Melbourne with grant funding to install a community battery in Southbank, allowing more locals to tap into renewable energy.
As per its election commitment made back in March 2022 and first revealed in Southbank News, the Albanese Government has announced that it will provide the council with $500,000 in the first round of grant funding to install a 400KW battery.
To be delivered as part of the council’s Power Melbourne program, the Tesla battery unit, which is about the size of a small car, will be installed at the Boyd Community Hub precinct.
Local federal MP for Macnamara Josh Burns made the announcement with Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen on May 19, describing the initiative as “a new beginning for Southbank locals”, and a win for renters.
“A community battery means Southbankers will be able to access cheaper and cleaner energy,” Mr Burns said. “It will also help out with electricity bills, all while reducing emissions and delivering reliable energy.”
Funded as part of the federal government’s Community Batteries program – a $200 million investment to install 400 batteries around the country – Minister Bowen said the Southbank battery delivered on a commitment to provide “cleaner, cheaper energy”.
“Around one in three Australian households have installed rooftop solar, making us a global leader, but far fewer have batteries to store their energy for later use,” he said, adding that the program was about “unlocking storage”.
“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy and ensuring Australians have access to it is a priority for the government, guaranteeing we can take advantage of Australia’s abundant solar energy and save on power bills,” he said.
As Australia’s most densely populated suburb, 98 per cent of Southbank residents live in apartments or flats and the area is home to one of Australia’s largest proportions of renters, meaning most can’t install solar panels at their homes.
The government has previously said that the battery would allow households to draw from excess energy stored in the battery to “expand the renewables revolution to more people in Southbank”.
Local households who do have solar, but not batteries due to their cost, will be able to feed into the shared battery during the day and draw from it at night, which Mr Burns said would help cut electricity bills, reduce emissions and ease pressure on the grid.
While community batteries usually work “like a sponge” to absorb excess renewable energy, Southbank has very low uptake in in solar panels. Implementing a battery would require a variety of appropriate locations to be identified locally for an array of solar to be installed, as well as other forms of remote energy generation.
As reported in the August 2022 edition of Southbank News, it’s understood the 70,000sqm roof of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is a key location under discussion for a potential “inner-city solar farm”.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the funding from the federal government would ensure Southbank maintained its liveability status with affordable, renewable energy.
“Southbank is our most densely populated suburb, and it continues to grow. A community battery will ensure this popular neighbourhood maintains its liveability status,” Cr Capp said.
“This investment will support our Power Melbourne project, which will deliver new community batteries and infrastructure to households throughout the municipality.”
“Access to green, affordable energy has never been so important, and our surveys tell us 75 per cent of City of Melbourne residents support the installation of community batteries in their neighbourhoods.”
“As part of our Power Melbourne project, work is already well underway to install our first community battery at Library at the Dock. We look forward to flipping the switch on this milestone in December 2024.”
With the City of Melbourne giving the green light to the project, work will now begin to formalise the battery’s location, engage with the local community and start work in coming months to plug the battery into the grid. •