Detail spotted on roadside power pole reveals quiet shift happening in Aussie neighbourhoods

The Tesla driver spotted the new addition mounted on a power pole in Queensland – and it speaks to a big change underway.

The Origin Energy neighbourhood battery attached to a power pole on the side of the road in Ipswich.
A Tesla owner couldn't help but pause and take a closer look after spotting something attached to a power pole on the side of a road in Ipswich, Queensland. Source: Facebook

A striking detail on the side of a suburban road has drawn attention to one Australian state’s push to “lead the renewable energy revolution”. A Tesla driver spotted the new addition mounted on the side of a power pole while traveling through Bellbird Park in Ipswich, Queensland, this month.

After stopping to take a closer look, the intrigued man discovered the large box attached near the top of the pole was in fact a “community battery”. “Seems like a good idea to lower grid usage and soak up all that extra solar from nearby rooftops,” he posted on a Facebook page dedicated to owners of the popular electric vehicle.

A large green sign plastered on the side of the power line reads: “Your local battery”.

The “neighbourhood battery” is one of 35 that will be installed across Ipswich — which has over 35 per cent of homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels — as part of a $10 million Queensland Government initiative.

The government-owned Energex and Origin Energy announced last year they were teaming up to install the 30 power pole-mounted and five ground-level batteries across seven suburbs to help offset current network challenges, and encouraged residents to join the Neighbourhood Battery Trial.

So far, about 40 per cent of the batteries — which soak up surplus solar energy produced by rooftop panels during the day, before sharing it back with the community later at night — have been set up, Joanna Nelson, Origin Energy’s General Manager Portfolio Delivery in the Future Energy team, told Yahoo News Australia on Friday.

“What we’re actually doing, in basic terms, we’re trying to mimic as if they have a battery in their own garage,” she explained. “You’re basically saying if you can store your solar during the day, you can get it back for free at night. So that’s the idea.”

Generic solar images from the Queensland suburb of Stafford, in Brisbane.
Energex and Origin Energy announced last year they were teaming up to install the 35 community batteries across seven suburbs in Ipswich to help offset current network challenges. Source: AAP

In the trial, which is open to residents who have solar panels and those who do not, every household can access up to 4kWh of energy when they need it for $15 a month. The average Aussie household uses 16kWh of electricity a day, according to Origin Energy.

For Ipswich locals who do have solar panels, they will get a rebate of an estimated $259 a year, while those who don’t can still reap a rebate of $186.

“For non-solar customers we’re basically just saying you’re sharing the benefits that the community generates through the battery, and you’ll get a discount, a rebate on your energy,” Nelson told Yahoo.

“And it’s explained in a very similar way that when excess renewable energy is generated during the day, it’s stored in the battery and you get it back at night for a lower cost than you would otherwise.”

So far, there are 100 to 200 participants in the Queensland trial, but that is expected to expand to about 700 customers by the time all of the batteries are deployed, Nelson explained, adding that there are also community battery trials occurring in NSW, including the Kiama Community Battery launch which just launched on Friday.

Partnering with Endeavour Energy, Origin Energy has installed community batteries in selected regions in the state, including Western Sydney last year and Shell Cove, which was deployed in April.

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