NSW network operator Ausgrid is installing a 60kW battery storage system in the Sydney suburb of Newington to see how it can help manage summer peak demand events.
The installation of the lithium-ion storage system is the biggest battery trial so far for Ausgrid, which operates in the eastern half of Sydney, the central coast and the Hunter region.
It is also the first battery storage installation on its side of the meter. A recently completed trial in the Hunter as part of the Smart City, Smart Grid program had 65 5kW battery storage systems in different homes in suburban Newcastle.
Ausgrid’s Paul Myors says the focus of the new trial would be to see how the battery storage functioned over the summer months, how it coped in hot ambient temperatures, and how it helped the operator cope with peak demand.
“Managing peak summer demand is our key driver as network operator. If we can knock that on the head, that’s a big saving for us,” he told RenewEconomy.
The full results of the suburban battery storage program, which used batteries from Australian developer RedFlow about the size of a small fridge, have not been released.
But Myors said the program showed that the technology was reliable and customer acceptance was good. One of the key challenges was making sure that the storage was able to dispatch for the entire peak period. “Peak lasts for a certain number of hours. You don’t want battery to run out of puff, because you will the lose benefit for the network.
Myors said there was still an “interesting” argument about batteries are best placed on the customer side of meter or the network side of the meter. The customers can get benefits if storing at low tariffs times and discharging at high tariff times, and there were benefits in using it as a back-up.
For networks, however, the deployment of battery storage on a grid side offered cost benefits. My role is about looking at non network options that can avoid capital expenditure,” he said. “Avoided network upgrades is the ultimate end game.”
He said it was clear that networks had to adapt to the rollout of solar PV and to learn how to accommodate it. He noted that in Newington, which had very high levels of penetration – solar was built on virtually every home when the suburb was erected for the Olympics – there were no great difficulties with voltage.
“Solar has certainly become a significant player on out network – we have now got 70,000 systems connected on our network. There has been dramatic growth, there are no two ways about it.
Myors said that it was clear solar PV was having an impact on peak demand in summer, which tended to occur around 4.30-5pm. He says around 32 per cent f rated capacity is operating during that network peak, and battery storage that lift that contribution if it could store from the middle of the day. “The introduction of storage could open up some signficantly greater benefits for network over time.”
Note: Last week wrote that Ausgrid had given a contract to US firm EnerNOC to extend their trial on their demand management program. An Australian company, GreenSync, is also delivering part of that program.