Distributed energy resourcesProject Solar and Storage Trial at Alkimos Beach Residential Development
The objective of the Alkimos Beach Energy Storage trial was to investigate the viability of a community battery from the perspective of both energy suppliers and energy users.
The Alkimos Beach Energy Storage Trial (ABEST) is a joint project between Synergy, Alkimos Beach development partners DevelopmentWA and Lendlease, and supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The objective of the trial was to investigate the viability of a community battery from the perspective of both energy suppliers and energy users.
The idea of incorporating a community battery into an energy supply system was that it has benefits for the electricity system as a whole and for individual users connected to it. From a system perspective, a large-scale battery may create savings that over time can be transferred to customers. From a customer perspective, those who generate excess energy from their rooftop solar photovoltaic system during the day can use that to reduce the amount of electricity for which they are charged higher rates in peak periods.
The purpose of the research was to explore the trial from the perspective of the residents of Alkimos Beach in order to inform further activities with the current trial as well as possible future community battery schemes.
The research found a reasonable degree of general awareness and understanding of the trial, however, there was not a high level of detailed understanding of how the product and pricing model works, and how households can maximise potential savings. This appears to be due to a perception by the majority of respondents that there is a lack of simple, readily available information about the trial, and no easy access to help and advice.
Cost was noted as still the main driver behind the decisions households make about energy appliances (including rooftop solar PV systems) and energy use, but other significant influencers are the environment and ‘doing the right thing’. Although some respondents indicated an attachment to the fact that they live in a suburb that has the first community battery trial in Australia, being a part of the community and developing community relationships did not rate highly as drivers behind signing up to the trial.
Most customers were interested in new energy technologies, particularly batteries, but are unsure of the pros and cons of a large-scale community battery compared with an individual ‘behind-the-meter’ household battery.
Despite the fact many research participants said they felt there was room for improvement with the operation of the trial, particularly in terms of information dissemination, the research confirmed the general feeling about ABEST was positive and the vast majority of respondents on the trial were satisfied.
Most satisfaction was due to lower energy bills. This has been supported by the latest Synergy data, which showed around 80% of customers were better off on the trial compared to the standard A1 tariff. Accordingly, there was overwhelming support for the trial to continue beyond its current completion date of May 2021.
The positive sentiment towards the trial suggests an opportunity to drive more uptake if desired. If the trial continues, it would benefit from the dissemination specific and regular information. If the trial is not to continue a communication strategy is implemented to maintain positive sentiment towards new and sustainable technologies and the reputation and branding of the project partners.
In addition to informing possible future phases of this trial, the report findings may help with planning similar trials or projects.