Batteries rolled out to regions to store excess rooftop solar power

As more electricity from renewable energy flows into the grid, the Palaszczuk Government wants to put household solar generation to better use.

Mar 25, 2021, updated Mar 25, 2021
Reliance on renewable energy has hit record levels in southern states. (Photo: Queensland Government)

Reliance on renewable energy has hit record levels in southern states. (Photo: Queensland Government)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament today nearly one in three Queenslanders in detached houses had rooftop solar panels.

“We want to make sure we’re using this energy in the right way and our network is keeping up with demand,” Palaszczuk said.

Energy Queensland will now trial grid-connected battery storage at five regional locations – Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Townsville, Yeppoon and Toowoomba – with a view to making additional capacity available elsewhere.

“This will mean that the excess renewable energy generated by Queenslanders will be stored for sustainable use which includes capturing the low-cost renewable energy during the day to distribute into the market in the high-use peak periods,” Palaszczuk said.

The announcement came as the Australian Energy Market Commission proposed new pricing arrangements for rooftop solar, that could potentially allow for households to be charged – not paid – for exporting electricity into the grid.

The move has angered rooftop solar customers, who are already facing a reduction in payments as government policies change and traditional generators come under pressure.

“As we transition our energy system and clean up our power supply, we need to be encouraging more rooftop solar – not penalising people for putting panels on their roof,” said Solar Citizens national director Ellen Roberts, who welcomed the Queensland announcement.

Queensland’s Energy and Renewables Minister, Mick de Brenni, said the government would consider the proposals and provide a submission to the commission.

“We do not expect any change to the current arrangements before 2025,” de Brenni said.

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“In the meantime, batteries placed on electricity networks throughout the state will assist in gaining the maximum advantage from Queensland’s abundant rooftop solar systems.”

A federal parliamentary inquiry has also been launched into trends in power generation and the possible role of storage.

Palaszczuk said regional Queensland would not only benefit from the storage trial but lower prices for electricity overall. Under a Queensland Competition Authority draft determination, the average regional household bill is expected to drop around $119, or 8.6 per cent, in 2021-22.

“Our 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 and policy to set aside land for domestic gas supply are working to support lower electricity prices for Queenslanders,” Palaszczuk told parliament.

“Lowering power prices not only eases the cost of living on households – it also makes our manufacturers and businesses more competitive – supporting more jobs in more industries across more regions in Queensland.”

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