Victorian Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, Community Power Hubs Open

Solar and battery storage in Victoria

Image: DELWP

The application periods for the Victorian Government’s $3 million Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI) and $3.3 million expanded Community Power Hubs program are now open.

First to the NBI – part of the Andrews Government’s $1.6 billion clean energy package announced in the 2020-2021 Victorian Budget, it will fund pilots and demonstrations of a range of neighbourhood scale battery ownership and operational models.

The initiative will help to better understand the challenges and opportunities involved with neighbourhood battery storage and which methods provide the most benefits, while supporting the decarbonisation of Victoria’s electricity system.

Under the NBI, funding of up to $150,000 is available for initiatives at the project development stage and up to $800,000 for projects that are ready to implement.

Applications are open until 11 April 2021, and the successful recipients will be announced in May.

“Neighbourhood-scale batteries can provide a range of benefits to electricity users, networks and Victorian communities,” said Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes. “Importantly, they can play a valuable role in supporting residential solar systems by soaking up excess solar output during the day which can then be dispatched in the evening, when it is needed most.”

Residential solar has taken off in the state, largely thanks to the Victorian solar panel rebate. Around 21 per cent of  households have solar panels installed currently, and this is expected to grow to 50 per cent by 2030.

Further details regarding the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative can be found here, and a consultation paper seeking feedback from stakeholders on neighbourhood battery deployment here.

Community Power Hubs Expansion

In other renewables funding news out of Victoria, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced on Monday $3.3 million in grants to expand the state’s Community Power Hubs program.

Aiming to increase access to and community involvement in renewable energy throughout the state, the program will fund 3 to 6 organisations to form and operate a hub in their respective regions. The regions involved are:

  • Metropolitan Melbourne
  • Barwon South West
  • Gippsland
  • Grampians
  • Hume
  • Loddon Mallee

Between $428,500 and $857,000 for the establishment and operation of a Community Power Hub will be available per applicant and up to $800,000 in total shared across all projects readied for implementation.

The first host organisations to pilot community power hubs in Victoria were announced back in 2017 – Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE) and Bendigo Sustainability Group (BSG).

Applications for the expanded program close on March 31 and further details can be found here.

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.

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