Distributed energy resourcesProject Community Models for Deploying and Operating DER
This report explores a relatively unknown question – what do people across the energy system think about local energy storage and community participation in this technology?
The Community Energy Model (CEM) project’s social research component aimed to understand stakeholder perspectives of the barriers and opportunities to community-scale energy storage. We drew on an interdisciplinary framework of social acceptance to generate new insights into this little known question. The methodology involved a series of qualitative research activities which took place between July 2019 and May 2020. We spoke with 21 energy sector professionals (in the NEM) about their views on community batteries of 100kW – 5MW. We also spoke with 57 householders across 8 different locations in six States to explore their views on the concept of a shared battery. This research is the first attempt to consider the views of energy professionals and householders about community batteries side by side in this way.
Participants believed community scale storage could provide a wide range of benefits across economic, technical, social and environmental arenas. Indeed, many participants highlighted that the advantages of community batteries is that it provides benefits across multiple dimensions. While several participants highlighted multiple benefits, particular participants emphasised certain benefits (that relate to their position in the energy system). Importantly, there was no significant disagreement between participants on the benefits. However, the point that different groups emphasise different benefits highlight the inherently political nature of model selection – any selection of models will reflect a particular set of values and may come at the expense of another group in the energy system. Whether or not the proposed storage is actually viewed as a “community battery”, will depend on a range of considerations including how householders are engaged in the design and how the benefits are distributed. As such, any proposed regulatory changes must take this into account and provide a pathway to explore different models so as to reveal which models are most likely to benefit all energy consumers. It also reveals the potential for some groups to resist regulatory or policy changes that enable benefits to be unlocked to new entrants.