Thursday, 7 April 2011

Batteries included - Towns on power trial

Daily Telegraph
31 March 2011, Page: 15

IT'S the energiser town that keeps going and going. In an Australian first, the rural town of Scone will have batteries fitted to up to 20 homes, creating its own "micro grid". Fridge size 5 kW zinc bromine batteries will be installed outside houses to store energy as part of a three year trial that would not only power neighbourhoods during blackouts but also allow relief from soaring power prices.

As part of the experiment, up to 40 households in the Newcastle suburb of Elermore Vale will use the batteries to store power from the grid in cheap times and then use the battery storage to run the house during peak times. "We're testing whether energy storage technology can make the electricity supply more reliable and give customers greater control over their household energy use", Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors said. "We will create a microgrid in Scone, making part of the area self sufficient during outage trials and any unplanned interruptions caused by storms or other events".

Cattle farmer Charles Cooke, among the first householders to be fitted with the technology, said the batteries would be useful in storms when the power goes out. "I see this as an insurance if you like, we all need that", Mr Cooke said. "I have been a great one for grabbing on to new technology. I can go back to the days of the old home generators when houses were wired to a 32 volt battery. wind turbines charged a battery system that ran the house".

Mr Myors said reducing the demand for power during peak could prevent the need to build costly infrastructure and would make the electricity network more efficient. Contracts were signed last night allowing Ausgrid (formerly EnergyAustralia) to roll out the mini power stations to 60 homes, including 40 in Elermore Vale. The trial, funded as part of the $100 million Smart Grid Smart City project, hopes to transform the way energy is used.