Lithium-ion battery test centre opens in Canberra

World-first battery testing taking place in Canberra will reveal critical information about the best ways to store renewable energy.

ITP Renewables’ new Lithium-ion Battery Test Centre at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) will run a $600,000 trial to test the unproven claim that lithium-ion batteries charge faster, last longer and take up less space than traditional lead-acid batteries.

Five lithium-ion batteries will be tested throughout three years against one conventional lead acid battery, one advanced lead battery and the Tesla Powerwall in a climate controlled building at the CIT Bruce Campus.

The much-hyped Tesla Powerwall is a battery system that generates and stores solar energy during sunny periods and can then transmit electricity to homes during peak hours. It also transmits energy directly from the grid during off-peak periods and stores it in the Powerwall battery for later use via a hybrid inverter which converts direct current (DC) energy to alternating current (AC).

The trial is backed by a $450,000 grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the research would inform home owners, suppliers and investors of the different batteries’ performances.

“Usually the manufactures will give you a specification but they tend to be done under lab conditions,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“But that’s not how people use their batteries. Some days are cloudy, some days are sunny, some days are cold and some are hot, so people will be able to see how they do in real conditions, and every six months data will be publicly made available so people can go online and see which ones perform better.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Simon Corbell said the ACT was leading the way in battery storage, after he announced in April that thousands of homes and businesses across Canberra will soon have access to stored renewable energy.

Mr Corbell claimed this to be the largest rollout of subsidised battery storage outside Germany.

“This is an important step in the journey towards embedding distributed storage as an important part of a renewable energy powered grid,” he said.

“As the ACT transitions to renewable energy, it is important for residents to understand how new technologies will perform in their house and stand the test of time.”