Homes to power rural street in Australian-first trial

Households in Gundy, New South Wales, will help power their local area using energy storage units and wind turbines as part of an Australian-first energy trial.

The 20 energy storage units and eight wind turbines were fitted in early April at properties along Waverley and Miranee Roads, Gundy, to test whether they can help power the grid during peak times and cut household bills by around $400 a year.

Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors said households were invited to have the technology on their properties for two years as part of the Australian Government’s Smart Grid, Smart City program.

“We’re testing whether this technology can make the power supply more reliable in rural areas and give households more control over their electricity use and bills,” Mr Myors said.

“We are also looking at the impact of adding this technology to the grid in a concentrated area, and whether it’s possible to use these energy sources to help power local homes during blackouts.”

The five kilowatt zinc bromine energy storage units are manufactured and installed by RedFlow Limited, an Australian company. The units are as tall as a small fridge, but half as deep, and are installed outside near a household switchboard.

The storage units will initially be connected to the grid so they can draw power from the network in non-peak times and store it for use by the grid when energy demand is at its peak.

“This will help us see whether this sort of technology can reduce peak demand on the grid,” Mr Myors said.

During the last stage of the trial, the storage units will be connected to the homes so residents can choose to take up time-based pricing and use their unit to help lower their power bills.

“Households could have the storage unit draw power from the grid in off-peak times when power is cheaper, store it, and use it later during peak times when power costs more,” Mr Myors said.

“We estimate households with energy storage units could save around $400 a year on their electricity bills so this is something we want to test.”

The eight wind turbines will directly power the properties on which they are installed – a combination of homes, sheds and pumps – to monitor both household and technical benefits.

“We will see whether combining wind turbines with energy storage makes it more viable for households in the future,” Mr Myors said.

“Depending on wind speeds, we expect homes with wind turbines connected could produce around 2000kWh of electricity a year and save around $300 a year on their power bills,” he said.

“These turbines can generate close to a third of the annual power needs of an average home connected to our network.”