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Cairns battery trials leading Australia says Ergon

Published: 9 Jun 2016 8:56am

One of Australia’s most comprehensive trials of residential battery energy storage systems is underway at a laboratory facility in Cairns according to Ergon Energy.

Eight different residential battery energy storage systems are being trialled by Ergon, with the recent arrival of two Tesla Powerwall batteries and LG residential energy storage system.

Ergon is looking at the capabilities of the commercially-available systems through a variety of ‘real world’ trials and laboratory-based demonstrations.

Manager Technology Development Michelle Taylor said testing included solar PV charging via  Ergon’s on-site PV array and analysis of how the battery systems interacted with standard Ergon mains connections.

“It may seem strange to some people that Ergon is investing in knowledge of battery energy storage – technology that is often pegged as the ultimate enemy of electricity networks,” Ms Taylor said.

“But Ergon doesn’t see it that way – in fact we believe battery storage could ultimately benefit both the electricity network and customers,” she explained.

“This kind of technology could give customers flexibility to source their power needs more cost effectively, but also has the potential to remove peak loads off the network if operated to suit the needs of both parties,” Ms Taylor said.

Ergon is currently trialling battery storage systems built by companies including LG, Panasonic, Tesla, Selectronic, SMA/Akasol, BYD, Sunverge and Legato.

The systems range in price (when fully installed) from around $7,000 to $30,000 – although early indications are that price is not necessarily an indication of a better battery system according to Ergon.

“A primary focus for Ergon is the safety and operability of these systems – particularly when they are working in conjunction with the electricity network to power people’s homes or businesses,” Ms Taylor said.

“We are very keen to see safe, consistent connection standards put in place for these systems,” she said.

Ergon Energy engineers, including Ms Taylor, are currently working with Standards Australia and other industry bodies towards setting installation and connection standards for battery energy storage systems.

“We are keen to stay ahead of the game with this technology,” said Ms Taylor, “and these trials will ensure we have the knowledge to make these systems work for the benefit of all.”

Tesla Powerwalls – the ‘glamour’ battery storage system

ERGON Energy has recently taken delivery of two of the first Tesla Powerwall battery energy storage devices to arrive in Queensland.

The sleek looking 6.4 kW battery systems were launched in California by Tesla chief Elon Musk last year amid great fanfare, instantly sparking tens of thousands of pre-orders across the world.

Ergon’s Technology Development team in Cairns began installing the units earlier this year and will test the Powerwall as part of its ongoing battery energy storage technology trials and demonstrations.

A single Powerwall unit reportedly costs around US$3750, or around A$10,000 (with variance depending on exchange rates) fully installed with an inverter.

Media Contact: Mark Timmerman
Phone: (07) 4432 8731

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