Ausgrid installs third solar-soaking community battery backed by federal funding

Ausgrid has switched on a rooftop solar-soaking community battery in the Sydney suburb of North Epping, the distribution network company’s third such project to be installed with the help of federal government funding.

The 250kW/535kWh battery system, delivered in partnership with the Hornsby Shire Council, was powered up on on Monday, with federal energy minister Chris Bowen in attendance.

The Albanese government’s Community Batteries for Household Solar program aims to underwrite the rollout of 400 network connected batteries to maximise the local use of cheap solar, reduce pressure on solar-heavy grids and pave the way for more rooftop PV.

As Renew Ecomony has reported[1], the scheme is divided into a few parts, with Bowen’s federal government department in charge of awarding funds for 58 of the discounted energy storage systems – including the North Epping BESS – and Arena tasked with allocating the remaining 342 grants, via two separate funding rounds of its own.

The division of the funding followed the controversial move[2] by the Australian Energy Regulator in early 2023 to give monopoly electricity network companies access to the federal grants via a waiver to ring fencing rules.

Critics of the class waiver have argued that networks, with their monopoly positions, would have a major advantage over non-network companies and could come to dominate the design and and ownership of community batteries funded through the scheme.

Just last week Green Energy Markets’ director of analysis and advisory, Tristan Edis, told Renew Economy’s SwitchedOn podcast[3] that his research has found community batteries installed by networks are not actually giving consumers any reduction on their bills.

Ausgrid, however, says the North Epping community battery will put downward pressure on energy bills by feeding back into the grid at peak times, while also allowing more local homes to install solar and charge their electric vehicles.

“Community batteries take advantage of our existing network infrastructure, speeding up installation time and reducing the need for expensive network augmentation,” Ausgrid CEO Marc England said on Monday at the battery’s launch.

“We estimate NSW consumers could save up to $25 billion if community batteries replace just half the expected home batteries, plus they have the added benefits of continuing to put downward pressure on peak energy prices while maintaining grid stability.

“With the right regulatory settings, we could deliver more than 1-2 GW of storage across our network, leading to increased electricity system security and reliability for our customers,” England says.

Speaking at the launch, minister Bowen said community batteries were vital to ensure the benefits of rooftop solar were shared evenly among communities by storing excess locally generated PV during the day and dispatching at night where it’s needed.

“Delivering more storage like we’re doing today – enables more households to reliably access the cost-of-living relief offered by solar,” he said.

For Ausgrid, the North Epping battery adds to the 412kWh community battery installed at Cabarita in September of last year[6] and another in Narara, with three more planned in Warriewood, Bondi and Cammeray.

Ausgrid has also installed batteries in Cameron Park, Beacon Hill and Bankstown as part of a previous program – the most of any distributor in NSW, it says.

“These batteries are uniquely placed to allow more renewable energy into the grid while delivering services to the wider energy market and applying downward pressure on energy bills,” England says.


  1. ^ has reported (
  2. ^ controversial move (
  3. ^ told Renew Economy’s SwitchedOn podcast (
  4. ^ (
  5. ^ May 18, 2024 (
  6. ^ installed at Cabarita in September of last year (

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