Australia’s first mobile network battery storage trial underway in Victoria

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The trial of Australia’s first grid-integrated ‘network’ battery is underway in Victoria, with the launch last month of AusNet Services 1MW Grid Energy Storage System (GESS), to test the ability of storage to help meet peak power demand.

The two-year trial – in partnership with ABB Australia and Samsung SDI – centres on using a portable 1MW battery system to automatically provide local support into the 22kV grid at peak demand periods – such as hot summer afternoons – and recharging during low demand periods.

Housed in four 20-foot shipping containers in a Thomastown industrial estate, the battery can operate at full power for one hour, and can transition to island mode to provide power as part of a mini grid when parts of the network become isolated.

3276 ABB Australia Melbourne GESS

First commissioned by the Victorian network operator in January last year, as we reported here, the system also includes a 1MW diesel generator as a secondary supply.

The first of its type and scale to be conducted in Australia, GESS will also aim to improve the quality of power delivery, providing active and reactive power support and other power quality functions, when connected to the network.

Ausnet Services operates electricity distribution and transmission lines in Victoria, as well as a gas network and four 1MW diesel plants, which are used at various times during Victoria’s increasing number of heatwave events.3276 ABB Australia Melbourne GESS

Lately, it is one of a growing number of energy distributors and generators that are (slowly) starting to wake up to the importance – and inevitability – of battery storage as a key component of future networks, both for effective and safe power delivery, and to avoid costly upgrades of poles and wires.

Indeed according to AusNet Services managing director Nino Ficca, the use of network storage is probably the next frontier in demand management.

“As an electricity distribution business, we’re committed to finding the right balance between safety, reliability and costs to our customers,” Ficca said.

“As such, we focus on innovative solutions to provide our customers with a reliable supply on the hanScreen Shot 2015-01-28 at 1.11.35 PMdful of peak demand days each year, which importantly delays or offsets network upgrades.

“The network battery trial complements these existing demand management solutions, which include mobile generators, critical peak demand tariffs, embedded generators and large customer contracts to curtail demand on peak demand days,” he said.

“This trial will establish if a battery system is a credible, cost efficient, non-network solution to meet peak demand.”  

  • Rob G

    This looks like an ideal fit for shopping centres and hospitals. Both could use something about 4-10MW and back that up with huge rooftop solar. The savings would come thick and fast as they cut the utility middle man out of the picture.

  • DogzOwn

    Request for clarification – isn’t this being done at the expense of taxpayers of Victoria, with results and benefits lost into private sector? Fully respect the benefits, especially expected capability to smooth out transients at end of land skin transmission lines etc. Is there anybody left in public sector electricity to make sure that benefits are properly reported?