News / Environment

Community solar battery for Brunswick on its way

The battery would be able to store excess energy from 250 Brunswick dwellings

A community battery installed in Fitzroy North which has been decorated with colourful artwork.

Brunswick Voice
UPDATED: Friday, May 26, 2023

BRUNSWICK is edging closer to getting a community solar electricity storage battery after Merri-bek Council was confirmed as receiving a $500,000 grant for its installation.

The council is one of 52 recipients in the first round of funding for the $200 million federal government program that was first announced in 2021.

China-Singapore owned energy operator Jemena Electricity Networks has also been handed a $500,000 grant to install a community battery in Coburg.

The 500 kWh battery would be able to store and redistribute excess solar energy generated by about 10% of dwellings in the Brunswick area that currently have solar panels installed.

The location of the Brunswick battery has yet to be confirmed, but sites that have previously been touted have been the Jesuit Social Services hub in Saxon Street or Halpin Street in Brunswick West.

The two batteries are expected to be installed over the next two financial years at a total cost of $2 million.

Merri-bek Mayor Angelica Panopoulos said the council would contribute $600,000 to deliver the Brunswick battery, which is expected to be installed and producing community benefit by March 2025.

Get more stories like this delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

HTML Button Generator

Plans for the two batteries in Brunswick and Coburg were first announced before the last federal election.

Community batteries work by storing excess rooftop solar generated electricity, which can be used at a later time rather than importing power from the grid.

A community battery is typically the size of a 4WD vehicle, and provides around 500kWH of storage that can support up to 250 local households who feed into the battery during the day and draw from the stored energy at night.

Currently, about 12.5% of dwellings across Brunswick, Brunswick West and Brunswick East have rooftop solar panels, so about 10 community batteries would be needed to service all households currently generating solar energy.

Announcing the two successful grant recipients last week, the Labor Member for Wills, Peter Khalil, said the community batteries would help lower household electricity bills, reduce emissions and deliver reliable renewable energy for local residents.

With the applicants given the green light, work will now begin to formalise the battery location, engage with the local community and start works in coming months to plug the battery into the grid.

Councillor Panopoulos said the community battery project aimed to improve network conditions, help reduce energy bills and emissions, and encourage more residents to install solar panels.

“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,” she said.

“Council will aim to implement a model where it can receive a portion of the revenue from power stored in this battery, which will be directed towards more subsidies for low-income homeowners to install solar panels and upgrade insulation and draught proofing.”

This story was originally published on May 21 and updated on May 26 with extra information and comments from Merri-bek Council.

Do you have feedback on this story? Send us a comment here.