Perth Tesla Community Battery Trial Kicks Off

Tesla Powerpack - PowerBank trial Perth

Image source: Western Power

Eligible solar households in the Perth suburb of Ellenbrook have been invited to take part in a community battery storage project, an extension of Synergy and Western Power’s first PowerBank trial.

In 2018, a community 420kWh Tesla Powerpack battery system commenced operations in the Mandurah suburb of Meadow Springs. In that trial, each eligible customer could buy 8kWh of virtual storage a day at a cost of $1 a day. In November last year the trial was extended to neighbouring suburb of Falcon.

Now Ellenbrook solar power system owners can join in.

Western Power says a 464kWh Tesla battery system has been connected to the electricity grid in Ellenbrook. This will enable participating solar owners to choose between either 6 or 8 kilowatt hours of virtual storage at a cost of $1.60 or $1.90 per day respectively – so significantly more than the Meadow Springs trial.

The idea is solar households “bank” surplus electricity generated by their solar panels during the day and draw it from PowerBank 2 in the afternoon and evening.

“Community batteries don’t only provide immediate, cost-effective solar storage options, they also have a collective benefit of smoothing out power supply to all customers in the area and opening up the capacity for more solar to be installed in the future,” said acting Western Power Chief Executive Officer Dave Fyfe.

The Ellenbrook PowerBank 2 trial will run for 2 years and there are no lock-in contracts for homes taking part.

How Cost-Effective Is PowerBank 2?

To consume energy from the grid costs 28.8229c per kilowatt hour in Perth (Synergy Home Plan A Tariff). 8 kilowatt-hours works out to $2.31. So, at first glance the $1.90 a day for PowerBank 2 (8kWh option) is a pretty good deal.

But by “banking” the energy, solar owners will be foregoing the feed-in tariff for this electricity, which is currently 7.14c per kilowatt hour. That works out to 57c cents. Add to that the daily cost of $1.90 per day and it comes to $2.47.

So, over a year utilising PowerBank 2 will cost $54.75 more than buying energy from the grid, assuming the full 8kWh is banked and then used each day. If a household *really* wants to get on the battery bandwagon, it’s a far cheaper option than buying a solar battery system outright if backup isn’t the main focus and a household’s electricity consumption profile suits.

It will likely be cost-effective for Western Power as PowerBank could help reduce the need for expensive network infrastructure upgrades, costs that are then passed on to electricity customers. These initial systems are also providing valuable information on integrating community battery storage into suburban settings.

Mr. Fyfe says Western Power is in the process of identifying several other locations for the installation of community batteries and is working towards rolling these out by the middle of this year.

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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