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.