CONSORT Battery Trial Report

Set on Bruny Island as a neat microcosm of Australia, and with a single electricity cable supplying the research area, the CONSORT Battery Trial researched how ‘prosumers’ could contribute to a smarter future by sharing household scale solar electricity generation and battery storage with the entire network.

‘Prosumers’ both produce electricity, and consume it. Trial participants were subsidized to install rooftop solar panels paired with batteries and controllers, whilst connecting to both the grid and to the internet.

Funded by ARENA, done by three universities, the local electricity network and a company specializing in network aware solar/battery controllers, the trial looked at:

  • how can and why do people chose to participate in distributed solutions to electricity supply?
  • how can this participation be best coordinated (refining and testing algorithms to reduce peak load on electricity networks )?
  • how can prosumers be best paid for distributed solutions?

The final report for the trial illuminated these questions, finding that not all people wanted to be part of a wider societal energy solution and further, that using price signals to change behavior was not universally successful.

Probably the biggest successes for the trial was in testing algorithms to orchestrate how the PV/battery combos worked together to help manage the network’s peak loads. The trail-installed PV/battery systems totalled 128kW (PV) and 333 kWh (in batteries).

On Bruny, the single cable supplying most of the island is old and tired, especially when high loads heat it up, such as short holidays when many people flock to Bruny for a quick break.

To deal with these big loads, TasNetworks runs a diesel generator, producing greenhouse gas emissions in Tasmania’s otherwise largely renewable system.

Results show an overall 33% reduction in diesel use and a lack of need for the generator on 24 days when it would normally have been used – a fantastic feat given the rather small percentage of installed system versus overall demand!

Algorithms developed within universities were trialed and adapted using real-time conditions. These work on both predicting demand and in recompensing prosumers for their participation.

Read the full detailed report here (32 pages) and find out about industry awards here.

Bruny Island trials world-leading battery storage system to secure energy future

Tasmania’s Bruny Island community is forging ahead with a world-leading trial of battery storage this weekend.The new system will allow thirty-five residential customers to create a “virtual power plant”, that both supports their own energy needs and feeds back into the grid.
Andrew Fraser, Network Innovation Team Leader at TasNetworks, joined Leon Compton on ABC Local Radio to discuss the CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial.
Listen here – duration: 10min 53sec

Latest on the Battery Trial

CONSORT are pleased to report that batteries installed under the Bruny Island Battery Trial were used for support for the first time over the Easter and Anzac day period. As only three batteries had been installed and commissioned prior at that stage, they were unable to draw enough energy from the batteries to provide significant support to the network peak.  This meant that there was very little effect on the use of the generator, which was required to be operated seven times over that period.  The good news is that this provided us with a great opportunity for a test run and all batteries responded as expected. They requested support on ten occasions and discharged around 260 kWh from the batteries over this time. This is roughly the equivalent of ten days consumption for an average household. The installation of batteries is now ramping up, with another four ready to be commissioned. The next major event will be over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.

The Trial has continued to receive attention from media, local community members and the energy industry.  A report on the Trial featuring an interview with one of the first participants to have their system installed was aired on ABC News on Friday 14 April, with a follow-up print article published the following day.  Members of the CONSORT Project Team have been invited to talk about the Trial at several industry events; a copy of the slides presented at a recent event hosted by the Alternative Technology Association’s Tas South Branch can be viewed here, and a recording of the presentation can be viewed here.

The official launch of the Trial has been postponed; CONSORT expect that this will now take place during June. 

CONSORT  confirm that there will be a third and final intake of Trial Participants.  As per the previous two intakes, Participants for the remaining places will once again be selected via a ballot process during May.  All previous applicants will automatically be included in the ballot, unless they have advised us otherwise.