Brunswick Gets Two Community Batteries Despite Lacklustre Solar Uptake

2 community batteries side-by-side

AI Artist’s Impression

Yet another council is getting ready to add a community battery to its infrastructure: Merri-bek City Council will build a community battery in Brunswick after securing a federal government grant.

The council applied for the $500,000 grant under the federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s “Community Batteries for Household Solar Program”. It will back the battery with around $600,000 of its own funds.

The project aims to have the battery installed and operational by March 2025.

Merri-bek Mayor councillor Angelica Panopoulos said in a media release the Brunswick community battery will be a partnership between council, site service providers, commercial partners and the Merri-bek community.

Panopoulos said 8700 residents of Merri-bek now have solar power, adding:

“We know there’s increasing appetite from our community to take more control over their energy sources and support local sources of electricity, and our new community battery will help achieve that.”

Out of interest, SolarQuotes’ ‘Solar In Your Location‘ tool shows that residents in the Brunswick postcode have a solar uptake only one-third that of the Australian average:

In Brunswick’s postcode area (3056), more than 1,388 small-scale systems have been installed with a collective capacity of 7,729 kW as at March 31, 2023.

Given a population of 23,358, this works out to 331 watts per person in the area, compared to a 839 watts Australian average. There are approximately 12,656 dwellings in the 3056 area, so that calculates out at 11 solar panel systems per 100 dwellings – the Australian average is 33.

Panopoulos said council’s preferred model is to receive revenue from the power stored in the battery, which will be directed towards subsidies (currently up to $3000) to help low-income homeowners install solar power, and upgrade insulation and draught-proofing.

“We’ll aim to ensure the battery integrates into the vibrant, artistic background of Brunswick by giving a local artist an opportunity to use the battery enclosure as a canvas.”

The council had also applied for a grant in Coburg but was unsuccessful; however, energy distributor Jemena has won a $500,000 grant to put a battery in Coburg.

According to Brunswick Voice, Jemena plans to spend the grant on a 500kWh battery.

Panopoulos said:

“We look forward to offering our advice and support to help Jemena Electricity Networks deliver this asset, and amplify benefits for our community.”

Community batteries have faced opposition when utilities have chosen sites with insufficient consultation with councils.

In March, independent MP for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, accused the government of using community batteries as “sports rorts” style pork-barrelling.

About Richard Chirgwin

Joining the SolarQuotes blog team in 2019, Richard is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience covering a wide range of technology topics, including electronics, telecommunications, computing, science and solar. When not writing for us, he runs a solar-powered off-grid eco-resort in NSW’s blue mountains. Read Richard's full bio.

Comments

  1. Many Brunswick Residents have been denied feed in due to network capacity. Also you have a high volume of rentals, apartments, townhouses and non traditional dwellings so it’s not surprising the uptake is lower than your 4×2’s in the suburbs.

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