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FAQs

  • A1. What is the context for this community battery project?
    In May 2023 Mornington Peninsula Shire was awarded $500,000 through the Federal Government’s Community Batteries for Household Solar program to deliver the Flinders Community Battery project. Our work over the past three years has played an essential role in achieving this outcome. Flinders Zero Carbon Community (FZCC) have been working on this project for years, delivering community forums and facilitating a feasibility study in 2022. This battery project is part of a larger ambition to move Flinders towards net-zero carbon emissions from energy by 2030. The broad aims of the battery project are: to help stabilise the grid give greater capacity for residents to have solar on their roofs reduce our carbon footprint, and to generate a small amount of income for the community.
  • A2. What is a community battery?
    Community batteries, sometimes referred to as “neighbourhood batteries”, are a type of energy storage that can increase the accessibility and availability of renewable energy for a surrounding neighbourhood. These batteries are bigger than a home battery. A typical household battery (often used to store rooftop solar energy) might have a storage capacity of up to about 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh). This might be enough to power your average household for a day. On the other hand, community batteries range from 100 kWh to five megawatt-hours (MWh) in capacity. Neighbourhood batteries are typically connected to a low-voltage distribution network, which, depending on the size of each network, may connect approximately 100-300 properties. Community batteries can be connected ‘in front of the meter’ to the electricity network. That is, they are located outside of your home or property and connected to the local network as a standalone unit. A community battery would typically be located at the street level close to where electricity is being consumed and generated. Community batteries can be owned by electricity distribution businesses or third parties such as councils, community energy groups, electricity retailers, and private investors.
  • A3. Why is a battery a good idea?
    In short: Reducing carbon output by better use of local solar generation. Improving stability of the grid by reducing load in times of high demand. Putting downward pressure on electricity prices (in the longer term). Some small financial reward for the town.
  • A4. What will a community battery do?
    Community batteries can help more solar to be used locally, allow more solar into the local network, support wider renewable energy adoption, and prepare for increasing electricity use from electric vehicle charging. This technology can solve local issues, such as power quality issues, network constraints (or a lack of network capacity) and offers a flexible alternative to traditional poles and wires investment and can therefore reduce network costs and place downward pressure on energy prices. In short: Potential to reduce carbon output by better use of local solar generation. Improving stability of the grid by reducing load in times of high demand. Putting downward pressure on electricity prices (in the longer term). Potential to direct any profits via ‘community benefits fund’ back into the local community.
  • A5. What are the benefits of a community battery?
    Batteries are key to supporting the energy system as we continue to rely on more renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Community batteries in particular can provide benefits in the local area they are connected to, allowing more rooftop solar and more electric appliances, such as electric vehicle chargers, to be connected. Communities batteries can help to: Prepare the network for increasing electricity use, including from local electric vehicle charging which is expected to be an increasingly significant demand. Allow for more local storage and supply of locally produced renewable energy. Strengthen the grid which reduces the need to limit (curtail) solar exports and helps customers maximise their personal solar investment. Enable more solar within the local grid, including for use by households that don’t have their own solar. Create a positive impact on wholesale electricity prices and network tariffs that could eventually flow as savings through to retailers’ electricity prices. Regulate voltage on the network and improve network quality in the local area. Offer a flexible alternative to traditional poles and wires investment, helping to lower network costs by deferring the need for more network infrastructure.
  • A6. How will a battery reduce carbon emissions?
    Battery storage supports the transition to a renewable energy system by providing system services currently provided by fossil fuel generators. With the widespread adoption of rooftop solar, these batteries provide local storage in the distribution network, 'firming' the supply of variable renewable energy. In time, batteries will also reduce emissions by reducing the reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
  • A7. What good is a community battery for me?
    The electricity system is changing rapidly with more distributed energy resources and the closure of large generators. We need a lot more storage to ensure the electricity system continues to be as safe, reliable and affordable as possible. In this wider context, this community battery project may be a small contribution to solving this larger goal, but it is important to ensure the electricity system serves and benefits you. The battery may also reduce the likelihood of future solar export constraints on the low-voltage network on which it is connected. A battery may also defer the needs for future augmentation of the network, costs which are passed on to customers via network tariffs – helping in a small way to put downward pressure on electricity bills.
  • A8. Does this just benefit people near the battery?
    No. We all benefit from better grid stability and reduction in carbon use as well as from saving the planet! But those whose houses are located on the sub-net near the battery might be able to install more solar on their roofs without running into limits usually imposed by United Energy.
  • A9. Will I see a change in my electricity bills?
    No, the community battery will not directly change your electricity bill.
  • A10. Do I need to sign up to benefit?
    No. The battery does not require any subscription or participants.
  • A11. Can I draw on it during a black out?
    No. The battery is not designed for emergency back-up electricity supply.
  • A12. Who will own the battery?
    The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council will be the legal owner of the battery.
  • A13. What happens to any profits generated by the battery project?
    The profits generated by the battery will be given back to the community through a community benefit fund.. The fund is intended to be administered by Repower Mornington Peninsula and used to support more solar in vulnerable communities or other renewable projects that assist tenants or those unable to install solar themselves. The design and governance of the fund will be determined in consultation with Repower and the Community Reference Group.
  • A14. What governance processes exist for the battery?
    Decisions around the community battery will be determined by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Council's decisions will be supported by intelligence yielded from community engagement activities delivered by Yarra Energy Foundation, in collaboration with Flinders Zero Carbon Community (FZCC). Engagement processes will involve public information sessions, a community survey, and the establishment of a Community Reference Group (CRG). The CRG will be composed of 6-8 community members who represent key stakeholders, nearby residents and/or relevant community organisations. The CRG will: Be able to collaborate with the project team and influence the final decision of the site and placement of the battery. Be consulted on site preparations and the extent of works required. Be involved in the artwork or visual treatment of the battery. Be involved in the decisions around vegetation, planting, and/or screens (if required). Be consulted on the distribution framework of a community benefits fund, which will be administered by Repower Mornington Peninsula. *Please note the terms collaborate, consult, and involve have specific meanings which you can read about here. The funding program for the community battery is the Federal Government's Community Batteries for Household Solar program, and the project team reports to the government on milestones and progress.
  • B1. How does the battery work?
    The battery works like a ‘solar sponge’, typically charging during the day when the percentage of local solar and renewable energy is often higher than average. It then stores this energy and can discharge during the evening, when most people are using electricity. The battery charges from the grid and is not directly connected to local solar, but is timed to charge when local solar is most likely being exported. Locating the battery in an area with high solar penetration is helpful to maximise the environmental benefit of the system. By storing solar when it’s abundant and releasing it when there is high demand, the battery can help offset emissions from electricity while also putting downward pressure on electricity prices.
  • B2. What's the capacity of the battery?
    The Flinders Community Battery project will install and operate a 120kW/360kWh capacity battery. This means that the battery has the capacity to discharge 120kW of power constantly for a theoretical maximum of three hours if fully charged.
  • B3. How big will the battery be?
    This community battery would be about the size of four fridges stacked beside each other. A single battery system is made up of four cabinets which include all switchboard gear and the inverter.
  • B4. Will the battery be noisy?
    The Flinders Community Battery would make some noise when charging and discharging. Typically this occurs during the day when the sun is shining and in the evening, especially during periods of peak demand, but not at night. Battery systems typically include a standard air conditioning unit, which make noise. Noise can also be managed with acoustic treatment within or outside of the battery unit. Generally speaking, community battery noise levels can range from about 50-70 decibels at 1 metre from the unit. 50 dB can be equated to the sound of a conversation at home, and 70 dB can be equated to a vacuum cleaner. The Pixii battery system, which will be used for this project, was selected because it was the quietest system of the options assessed at the time. From the experience of Yarra Energy Foundation’s community battery installed in Fitzroy North on a neighbourhood nature strip, noise has not been an issue for residents even in a built-up residential area. Whether this sound is an issue in practice will depend on: Sound treatment within the battery cabinet itself Which direction the battery is facing (where is sound projecting and how might it be reflecting off surfaces) The natural acoustic properties of the in situ environment (e.g. is it concrete, grass, vegetation, brick walls, or open space) Any environmental sound treatment or insulation as part of the installation The distance from the battery to nearby properties (and how sound will degrade over that distance) Any competing ambient sounds (like traffic in the distance) that would drown out the sound of the battery
  • B5. Will the battery be Electric Vehicle capable?
    Community batteries provide storage just as Electric Vehicle charging stations do. The step of adding chargers to a community battery installation is not difficult, but it is not in the scope of the Flinders Community Battery project. However, the project team has sought to make the battery “EV-ready” should this opportunity be pursued in the future.
  • B6. Who is the battery supplier? Where are they based?
    The Flinders Community Battery will be supplied by Pixii, a Norway-based company, with a strong track record in delivering reliable, compact, modular energy storage systems. The battery modules in the Pixii system come from a Swedish company, Polarium. Polarium modules are composed of individual battery ‘cells’ which come from the Swedish-based company Northvolt.
  • B7. What is the battery made from?
    The Flinders Community Battery is a Lithium-ion Pixii PowerShaper 2 system. The chemistry of these battery cells is lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt (Li-NMC).
  • B8. Are these batteries sustainable?
    This is by far the most sustainable battery model from a lifecycle analysis point of view out of more than a dozen options evaluated through an assessment and evaluation process conducted by Yarra Energy Foundation. Battery supplier Pixii is committed to sustainability and has a sustainability policy that can be read here. Battery module manufacturers (Polarium) are the first in the world to announce the manufacturing of battery modules made with 100% renewable energy. You can download their sustainability reports and policy from their website here. Battery cell manufacturer Northvolt has a commitment to recycle 50% of its materials by 2030 and is working towards reducing the carbon footprint of their battery cells on a life cycle basis to 10kg CO2e/kWh from 33kg CO2e/kWh in 2022. You can download their sustainability reports from the website here.
  • B9. Are these batteries recyclable?
    Battery modules within the Pixii system are manufactured by Polarium, a Swedish company dedicated to providing the best-performing, safe, and sustainable energy storage solutions built on lithium-ion technology. As of 2021, Polarium has initiated a long-term partnership with lithium-ion cell manufacturer Northvolt, in which Northvolt will supply Polarium with lithium-ion battery cells. Northvolt has a commitment to recycle 50% of its materials by 2030, and in 2021 announced its first cells built with fully recycled nickel, manganese, and cobalt – the key metals used in a battery cell.
  • B10. How do battery suppliers ensure ethical practice within their supply chain?
    Pixii takes ethical issues seriously and has various policies to ensure responsible and ethical practice of their own activities and that of suppliers. Pixii policies include: The Transparency Act – Account of Due Diligence: This requires companies to carry out due diligence in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Code of Conduct and Ethics: This seeks to ensure employees and agents of the company conduct themselves with integrity. Supplier Code of Conduct: This seeks to ensure that Pixii conducts business in line with respect for human rights, labour rights, protect health, safety, and the environment as well as the prevention of corruption. They have established this code of conduct in alignment with the UN Global Compact’s principals for sustainable development. Battery module manufacturer Polarium also has a Supplier Code of Conduct; in addition, they are committed to: The Responsible Minerals Initiative’s best practices. OECD Due Diligence Guidance for supply chain due diligence for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. Northvolt, which manufactures the battery models that make up Pixii systems, has standard Codes of Conduct, Supplier Code of Conduct and Anti-Corruption Policy. They are also committed to: GRI Standards TCFD ISO 14001 and ISO 90001 UN Global Compact International Bill of Human Rights ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and ILO Basic Terms and Conditions of Employment UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) OECD Due Diligence Guidance for supply chain due diligence for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas
  • B11. Do they produce electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, and is this a health concern?
    Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are everywhere in the environment and are produced by anything with an electric current flowing through it. Electrical infrastructure like electrical lines and transformers also produces electric and magnetic fields. There is no scientific evidence finding that electric or magnetic fields produced within existing international standards cause ill health effects. All Pixii systems comply with international standards made by the key industry body, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
  • B12. Are they a fire hazard, how will you manage fire risk?
    The project team’s selection of suppliers and testing of their technology has followed a rigorous process to ensure that this battery system operates safely. The key risk around fire relates to improper use and damage. This is why we’re working closely with United Energy (the distributor), Pixii (the supplier), and Acacia (the project manager) to ensure the safe installation of the battery and conditions for its safe use.
  • B13. What is the life expectancy of the battery?
    The battery is expected to operate for at least 10 years.
  • C1. What will the battery look like?
    The Flinders Community Battery is roughly the size of four fridges stacked side by side. A very similar system was installed by Yarra Energy Foundation in Fitzroy North. The Community Reference Group for this project suggested artwork for the battery, leading to the procurement of local artist Hayden Dewar to create a mural for the battery, which you can see below. The Flinders Community Battery is also looking to engage local community members on visual elements through the Community Reference Group.
  • C2. Will there be more than one battery?
    There is only funding for one battery.
  • C3. Will the battery be ugly?
    No. The area around the battery will be landscaped to help it fit in. It might even have some artwork painted on it.
  • C4. Who is paying for the battery?
    The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was successful with an application to the Federal Government for $500,000 to pay for the installation of the battery.
  • C5. Will it affect feed-in tariffs?
    No. Residents attached to the battery will still get their existing feed-in tariff when they export solar back to the grid.
  • C6. Where can I get more information about the battery?
    You can email flinderszcc@gmail.com. We’ll be happy to chat.
  • D1. Where is the Flinders battery likely to be located?
    Currently, two sites have been proposed on King St on either side of Double Creek Road. These locations provide a significant amount of home solar to charge the battery. These are the only sites which have also been endorsed by United Energy (the Distribution Network Service Provider) thus far. Council is investigating if other sites may be viable and seeking further advice from United Energy about what sites may be technically feasible.
  • D2. How were these proposed sites selected?
    This project has a long history within Flinders. Flinders Zero Carbon Community conducted a survey looking at pathways to reduce emissions, highlighting lots of interest in community batteries. In 2022, a forum was held with over 80 community members to learn about the community “Roadmap” (download PDF) to zero-carbon and community batteries, finding strong support amongst attendees. In 2022, a community battery feasibility study (download PDF) was conducted by Yarra Energy Foundation as part of their work in the State Government-funded Community Power Hubs program. This study found very high solar capacity in the King Lea Low Voltage Network. The Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP) United Energy is also seeking solutions to address capacity limitations in this network area. The two sites were then shortlisted by the Council due to the following factors: There is a wider roadside verge than on the eastern side of King Street. Neighbouring properties at both sites do not access their properties via King Street. Dwellings at both locations have a setback exceeding 20 meters, reducing the potential for noise disturbance. Both sites are close to the network transformer, which reduces connection costs associated with the community battery. No substantial drainage works would be required. These sites are unlikely to be inundated or flood-affected. Existing vegetation is capable of concealing the battery, minimising the potential visual presence. There is also scope and capacity for future plantings at these sites.
  • D3. Are other sites being considered?
    Yes. Although community consultation is planned for the first two proposed sites, Council is investigating whether other sites may be viable pending further technical advice from United Energy and available land.
  • D4. When will we see the battery?
    Submission went to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water at the end of January 2023 and we received confirmation of success in late May, 2023. We hope that the project will be operational by mid-2024.
  • D5. Who will operate the battery?
    The battery will be operated by the Australian retailer, Acacia Energy under advice from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Yarra Energy Foundation. Acacia Energy is an Australian company and retailer with experience managing battery projects and retail services. They would operate the Flinders Community Battery, building on their experience operating the Yarra Energy Foundation’s Fitzroy North Community Battery.
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