‘First of its kind’ $10.98m project to trial pole-mounted batteries in Australia

A total of 40 custom-built batteries will be mounted on electricity poles across United Energy’s distribution network, with the batteries operating as a virtual power plant

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A new AUD$10.9 million (£5.7m) project, the first of its kind in Australia, will trial the use of pole-mounted batteries to support more solar power and manage constraints on the network.

A total of 40 custom-built batteries will be mounted on electricity poles across United Energy’s distribution network, with the batteries operating as a virtual power plant (VPP), providing demand management services and increasing hosting capacity for rooftop solar.

Each of the 30kW batteries – installed at strategic locations across the low voltage distribution network in south eastern Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula – will be capable of providing at least two hours of storage.

The batteries will be manufactured locally by Thycon and mirror the design of existing distribution transformers that are already mounted to poles across United Energy’s network in Melbourne’s bayside area.

The company has signed a deal with Simply Energy for the market trading rights of the VPP.

When the batteries are not required by United Energy, Simply Energy will operate them to provide wholesale power and frequency control ancillary services.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing AUD$4 million (£2.09m) for the project.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “As more and more renewable generation comes online, it’s crucial to address the challenges of a changing energy mix and build the grid of the future. We’re excited to see United Energy trial a novel approach to battery storage that provides benefits to current and future solar customers and reduces network costs, while also increasing the level of dispatchable generation in the power system.

“United Energy’s world-first pole-mounted technology could change the way renewables are integrated into the system. When connected near customers, distribution connected batteries have enormous potential to facilitate higher levels of rooftop solar while keeping costs under control for all customers.”

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