A testing laboratory purpose built by Queensland utility Ergon Energy to host one of Australia’s biggest residential battery storage trials has been opened this week in Cairns.
The facility will be used by the Queensland government-owned network operator to test the capabilities of a range of commercially-available home battery storage systems through a variety of ‘real world’ trials and lab-based demonstrations.
Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey said Ergon was trialling battery storage systems from companies including Sonnonbatteries, Magellan, LG Chem, Tesla, Selectronic, SMA, Enphase and Fronius.
The tests – which will focus on the safety and operability of these systems – will include solar PV charging via Ergon’s on-site PV arrays and analysis of how the battery systems interact with standard Ergon mains connections and typical customer consumption patterns.
“Residential battery energy storage systems are new technology that will impact Ergon’s network and its customers and could be a win-win for both parties,” said state treasurer Curtis Pitt at the opening of the facility on Thursday.
“This kind of technology could give customers flexibility to source their power needs more cost effectively, and has the potential to remove peak loads off the network and can increase the value of renewable energy if operated to suit the needs of both parties.”
“This is truly the start of something big,” Pitt said.
“Not only are we proving that this type of world-leading tech research can be pioneered in regional Queensland cities, we are also attracting some of the industry’s brightest minds here to define how we will generate, store and use energy into the future.”
As we reported in February, Queensland’s workplace regulators have expressed concern about the lack of safety standards around battery system installation in the state, and nationally.
The concerns prompted both the state’s Electrical Safety Office and WorkCover Queensland to recommend that all battery storage units be banned from installation in homes and garages, and only installed in free-standing, weatherproof enclosures.
The recommendations – issued ahead of new battery storage guidelines to be released by Standards Australia – have caused controversy in the industry, which fears that the cost of installation could rise by thousands of dollars, and are “over-reach” in the case of quality equipment.
In its statement on Thursday, the Queensland government said the battery testing lab was part of Ergon Energy’s work with Standards Australia and other industry bodies towards setting installation and connection standards for battery energy storage systems.
“It’s also about trying to work with new technology developers to get systems that will benefit now and into the future,” Treasurer Pitt said.
“These trials in Cairns will ensure Ergon has the knowledge to make these systems work for the benefit of all.”
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.