How Queensland neighbours are sharing their solar power

The real challenge is storing it.

Now, a groundbreaking trial near Brisbane is leading the charge toward a clean and affordable energy future by allowing neighbours to share their solar power.

A groundbreaking trial near Brisbane is leading the charge toward a clean and affordable energy future. (Nine)

Like thousands of Australian households, Queensland mum Pene Doyle is feeling the heat of rising power prices.

“It’s a big stress, since the rates have gone up I lost the plan I was on so the big discounts I was getting have all gone,” Doyle told 9News.

“When I realised, I was really worried about how I was going to pay my next bill.”

Doyle supports the transition to renewables but hasn’t been able to afford installing solar panels herself.

Luckily, her community of Redbank Plains in Ipswich, south of Brisbane, is the first in the state and one of only a handful in the country to take part in a new scheme using neighbourhood batteries to harness solar energy and tackle soaring costs.

“It is really exciting for it to come to somewhere that needs it,” Doyle said.

“And I mean we live in Queensland, look at all the sun we get, it’s stupid not to use it.”

The first of 30 pole-mounted and five ground-level batteries has been installed in Redbank Plains with all 35 set to be up and running over coming months.

Each battery is designed to collect and store excess energy from solar panels on nearby residents’ rooftops.

That energy is then fed back to homes during periods of high demand and shared among homes both with and without solar panels.

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Combined, the 35 batteries are able to store enough energy to power 600 homes during peak periods – reducing pressure on the grid and costs for households.  

“At night time when most people use their energy during the peak, we’re using it from cleaner sources rather than relying on traditional carbon-based generation sources,” Energex engineer Emily Shawsmith told 9News. 

“This is one project of many that is going to ensure that the grid is reliant and resilient as we navigate through this changing time.”

Owned by Energex but operated by Origin, the batteries are still in the trial phase with Origin now seeking expressions of interest from residents.

To access the energy customers will pay a subscription fee, which Origin says will be entirely offset by power savings.

Customers who share their solar will be rewarded with a rebate of about $200 every year.

Those without solar panels will still receive a reward, about around $100, for accessing the battery-stored energy.

“We expect that by this time next year we will have evaluated the performance of these batteries and we look forward to rolling them out in more locations across the state,” Minister for Energy and Renewables Mick de Brenni told 9News.

The batteries are even designed and manufactured locally – energy storage company Pixii setting up shop in nearby Archerfield.

“Six months ago there was no facility in Queensland. We now have a warehouse, we have staff, we’re spooling up,” Pixii product manager Darren Nankivell said.

The facility is expected to boost job opportunities in local manufacturing as the project expands.

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