Bowen’s Battery Bonanza Bandwagon Rolls On

Chris Bowen and community batteries

Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen is continuing his community battery pledging spree.

In December last year, Labor leader Anthony Albanese unveiled his party’s Powering Australia plan, designed to slash emissions and electricity prices, and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

An element of this plan is a $200 million investment over four years to deliver around 400 large batteries in communities prone to natural disasters, experiencing “fringe-of-grid” issues or where solar uptake has reached a point it creates challenges for grid stability. Batteries can soak up surplus solar energy goodness during the day for release at night or during what would otherwise be a blackout event. The use of community batteries benefits all, and also increases local solar hosting capacity.

Before even the first vote has been cast or an election date called for that matter, Chris Bowen has been pledging batteries in some communities. Among the locations that will get community energy storage – assuming Labor emerges victorious after the election of course:

  • Dickson (ACT)
  • Casey (ACT)
  • Fadden (ACT)
  • Maldon ( Victoria)
  • Torquay (Victoria)
  • Coorparoo (Queensland)
  • Caloundra (Queensland)
  • Noosaville (Queensland)
  • Maloney’s Beach (NSW)
  • Bellfield (VIC)
  • Jagajaga (VIC)
  • Edwardstown (SA)
  • Bidwill (NSW)
  • Newmarket (QLD)
  • North Cairns (QLD)

Up to March 10, 25 batteries had already been pledged and there’s been more since. The three ACT suburbs mentioned above are among the new additions – those were announced yesterday.

Supporting renewables and battery storage is a vote winner. The Coalition recently came out swinging over these and other pledges, saying Labor was targeting marginal seats – but stones and glass houses and all that.

Spruiking Solar Banks

Mr. Bowen is also busy spruiking another aspect of Labor’s Powering Australia plan – Solar Banks, more commonly referred to as “solar gardens”. The model involves households and businesses unable to directly access the benefits of rooftop solar buying or leasing a stake in a large solar installation, and being credited for what their share of the facility generates.

Labor’s commitment involves a $100 million direct investment to support around 25,000 households to own or lease part of a large solar plant. A 1MW solar bank would support cleaner and cheaper energy for around 300 households said Mr. Bowen in a video published on Facebook yesterday.

“Labor’s Solar for All investment gives solar banks the kick-along they need, by assisting with 50% of the capital costs and covering feasibility and development costs.”

Mr. Bowen states these elements are critical barriers to getting solar banks operational. The Shadow Minister says the projects would also prioritise local content and local jobs, and help grow Australia’s mid-scale solar construction sector – particularly in regional areas.

The full details of Labor’s Powering Australia plan can be found here.

Another aspect of the party’s renewable energy related platform is Rewiring The Nation, an investment of $20 billion to rebuild and modernise the Australia’s grid. While termed “technology-neutral”, Labor says it will revitalise traditional industries and foster growth in new sectors such hydrogen and battery production.

“Fixing transmission is technology neutral and will allow the market to drive least cost, reliable new energy production,” states the party.

And least cost, reliable new energy production is all about renewables backed by storage.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. George Kaplan says

    Batteries for communities prone to natural disasters, experiencing “fringe-of-grid” issues or where solar uptake has reached a point it creates challenges for grid stability? So would an area that’s been flood affected twice this year, had at least 5 powercuts in the last 2 months, has more solar systems per 100 dwellings than Noosaville, generates roughly 80% as many watts per person as Noosaville, and absolutely flogs the likes of Fadden, Bidwill, Edwardstown or Torquay for Solar and power issues be considered by Labor?

    Yeah not holding my breath!!! If you don’t live in a (Labor voting) capital city then your infrastructure doesn’t matter and the government will not listen to you.

    Coalition criticism may be “… stones and glass houses and all that” but it doesn’t mean Labor’s efforts aren’t more a vote buying exercise than a genuine effort to change the Australian electricity system. If it were the latter then Labor policy would be applied without fear or favour instead of rewarding party loyalty.

  2. Greg Kruckow says

    Has any of these batteries been commissioned yet

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