Opened in June 2017, the laboratory is providing the opportunity for our technical experts to work closely with the battery storage industry in Australia and making a mark on the products that are available here while showcasing our ability to be at the forefront of new innovative technology.

Manager Technology and Development Michelle Taylor and her team are at the forefront of electricity related technology that is being trialled at the new laboratory. Their role is to enable new technologies to be part of our electricity network today and into the future as she explained to Talking Energy.

Q: Why is it so important to develop a testing facility like this?

A:The laboratory is a first for Ergon and is testament to our innovative thinking recognising technology such as battery storage and new home energy management devices will impact our network and our business.

From integrating small household rooftop solar systems to connecting multi-megawatt solar and wind generation plants, new energy storage systems and smarter appliances to our network – our team works with technology companies to enable that.

Q: What types of batteries are you trialing?

A: We know from the Queensland Household Energy Survey 2016 (PDF 919.1 kb) consumer awareness and interest in battery storage is high. However the high cost is a barrier to uptake with the majority of Queenslanders unwilling to purchase until costs fall below $10,000. It’s only a matter of time before that happens.

We’re currently trialling battery storage systems built by companies including Sonnenbatteries, Magellan, LG Chem, Tesla, Selectronic, SMA, Enphase, Solax and Fronius.

We know battery energy storage systems will take off. Trialing the various systems is about 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.

Q: As this is new technology are Australian Standards keeping up?

A: Our testing program to date for residential battery energy storage systems has enabled us to engage across the emergent energy storage industry across Australia.

It has also assisted in the development of safety standards for the installation of these systems in people’s homes.

The process has allowed us to work with some of the key industry players to provide input as to how these systems can integrate; where they can provide solutions and where they can result in network issues.

It’s been an amazing process and the group has worked across a lot of this industry since 2014, making a mark on the products that are available in Australia and showcasing Ergon’s Energy’s ability to be at the forefront of new technology.

Q: Home energy management systems are starting to come to the fore. Has that been factored into this testing facility?

A: Yes it has. Our testing includes testing “smart appliances” – appliances that are able to be integrated with smart control systems to better manage household energy use and costs.

We’re also looking at the types of equipment in the future that are likely to come into people’s homes to help them manage their energy.