Bruny Island battery trial wins Engineering Excellence Award

Bruny Island battery trial wins Engineering Excellence Award
Bruny Island battery trial wins Engineering Excellence Award

The CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial has won the Engineers Australia Tasmanian Engineering Excellence Award, held in Hobart, and now reaches the final of the 2018 Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (AEEA), which will be announced in September 2018.

The AEEA awards recognise outstanding achievement in engineering and the invaluable contribution engineering makes to the economy, community and the environment. The project was previously awarded EESA’s Energy Project of the year and the Clean Energy Council’s Business Community Engagement Award in 2018.

The award coincides with the CONSORT project passing another important milestone, in demonstrating how smart coordination of home battery systems can help to support electricity networks, while rewarding battery owners for this support.

The trial, based on Bruny Island, Tasmania, was able to prevent project partner TasNetworks from having to start their backup diesel generator during a major network peak.

This was made possible by the project’s Network Aware Coordination (NAC) software, developed by project partner The Australian National University, which was run continuously over two weeks during the recent Tasmanian July school holidays. The software was able to plan ahead to provide coordinated battery discharges at the exact times when the undersea cable supplying the island was in danger of overloading. Despite there being only 32 participating households, this precisely targeted power injection was enough to prevent a diesel start during at least one major network peak. It was also able to reduce diesel consumption by the maximum possible degree during other peaks.

Trial participants are provided with a subsidy to purchase home energy systems that include solar PV and a battery, and a Reposit Power home energy management system. During normal operation, the Reposit system controls the battery to minimise power bills. During peak periods, the NAC software talks to each Reposit system to incentivise the battery to support the network.

Participants earn extra payments for providing this support. Sydney University is using the trial to study the economics of how battery owners can be fairly rewarded for the fact that their battery is available for providing support, based on the potential usefulness of this availability.

The trial is providing a wealth of data about the attitudes and responses of trial participants to this new and innovative technology. This social research is being carried out by project partner the University of Tasmania, which is also involved in the engineering, strategic vision and project management aspects of the trial.

The Australian National University’s NAC software, which coordinates the batteries, was recently launched following its successful deployment during the Easter long-weekend. Since then, it has helped to support the Bruny Island network during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and July school holidays.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is providing $2.9 million towards the CONSORT project under its Research and Development Program. The CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial is an ARENA funded project.

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