Battery Report for Zero Emissions Noosa

Heather Smith • 8 November 2021

Vikki and I recently researched the state of play for mid-scale batteries in Australia, and produced a report for Zero Emissions Noosa Inc.

There's a summary below but if you want to cut to the chase:

  • Full report
  • Summary for decision makers
  • The zone substation graphs in the appendix - incomplete but if you're into visualisation, I'm really keen to know which tell the story you need to know for your community?

Here are my highlights from the report:

We stuck to our guns on terminology:

Community Energy Batteries also referred to as “Community-Scale”, “Neighborhood Battery” and even “Grid Scale” Batteries, are connected directly to the electricity distribution network and “in front of the meter”. This report chooses the term Local Battery instead. We reserve the words “community” or “neighborhood” for battery installations with community benefits hard wired into the design and business model.

We tried to help everyone understand the plethora of terms and different applications:

Table 1 Comparison of battery and power quality contributions at different scales and voltages




Possible Label

And Scale



Main value of example provided

Utility Batteries


30MW – 500MW

Primarily located next to large generators where high voltage infrastructure is available

Hornsdale Power Reserve



Use of surplus Hornsdale Wind (negatively priced or constrained)

Zone Substation Batteries


1MW – 40MW

11kV or 33kV but feeding immediately through substation to higher voltages

Queensland battery trial



Network support, delay of constraints and deferral of network investments


Medium Voltage (MV) Batteries


100kW – 1MW

Feeding from behind or in front of a meter through a dedicated or customer transformer

Yackandandah Battery Trial at timber mill


Any reasonable sized commercial customer has a dedicated MV feed.

Reduced energy bill by balancing onsite solar and load.

Low Voltage (LV) Batteries


30kW – 500kW

Low Voltage

3 phase (415V)

Pole Mounted network battery


Yarra Battery


WA examples

Network support



Use surplus solar


Customer bill reductions

Carefully located LV equipment


(could be part of a battery project)

Low Voltage

3 phase (415V) and

Single phase (240V)

Planet Ark static compensator



Fast charging

Reactive power and voltage control


Provision of large surges of power

Virtual Power plants


E.g. 20 x 10kW

20 - 100 households



on a single distribution transformer

Energy arbitrage


Improved network capacity

Household Batteries


3kW – 15kW

Single phase or three phase – depending on house supply

TESLA Powerwall





Reduced bills

Overcome export limits


Flat energy pricing

Off-grid battery applications and emergency household supply

3kW – 15kW

Single phase or DC (Direct current)

Stand alone power systems


Household batteries equipped with blackout capabilities

Full household supply, most of the year (often need a diesel battery in winter)


Household bills plus reliability

Electric Vehicles and mobile energy applications

15kW – 80kW

Can use both single phase charging (normal 10A or 15A socket)

or 3 phase

One way charging electric vehicle


Vehicle to grid capability through bi-directional charging and supply


Swap n Go

Replace fuel bills with renewables


…plus reduce energy bills


Quick alternative to recharging


We found plenty of fabulous research and analysis. Good signs that the electricity industry and governments are racing to keep up with the technology too. The report is full of useful links.

It was great speaking to Totally Renewable Yackandandah about their battery trial and, of course, Yarra Energy Foundation. If you want the hard numbers, University of Queensland has been the most transparent about its costs and benefits. Western Australia has led the pack with up to 3 years of experience by now, so it is disappointing that they concluded the Alkimos Beach trial did not have a sustainable business model and would not be repeated. Keep an eye out for the results of Ausgrid's trials. Their medium voltage effort with Enova is interesting for grappling with constraints at the medium voltage level. Energy Queensland, has a similar focus at zone substations at medium voltage. (I think low voltage hosting capacity is the main issue - let me explain that in another post).

Finally, I really appreciated the opportunity to think carefully about value streams. If we focus too short term, the market doesn't give us the true value and we make mistakes in our evaluation of the opportunity. Batteries have made good money out of frequency control (FCAS) markets but there are a number of indications that those markets will soon have plenty of options to choose from and the price will settle down. The is how we summarised the value streams in the final report:

The value streams described in this report are:

  1. Energy shifting (daily storage behaviour) which could also produce value streams from:
  • demand management
  • freeing up capacity
  • deferred and avoided investment in network and centralised generation
  • local voltage support
  1. Responding to sudden changes in the supply / demand balance. Unlocking commercial value would involve access to FCAS markets and the capability to bid appropriately.
  2. Power quality – there may be local power quality benefits. The possible issues and the control arrangements to unlock benefits would need to be investigated further.
  3. Back up supply to serve loads in emergencies and improve reliability
  4. Non-market (societal) value.