By: Steve Hanley
The city of Sydney, Australia, has set a goal of obtaining 50% of the electricity it consumes from renewable sources by 2030. As part of that program, it has recently activated a 1,600 solar power installations coupled with a 500 kWh of Tesla Powerpack battery installations, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The solar panels are installed on the roof of the city’s Alexandra Canal transport depot (see below).
While the solar installation isn’t the city’s largest — Sydney Markets in Flemington is powered by nearly 8,600 solar panels — it is the first to combine solar with large-scale batteries similar to Tesla’s massive battery unit in South Australia. At the commissioning ceremony on Wednesday, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the project was part of the city’s wider push towards greater sustainability and fighting climate change. Many parts of Sydney are located on the shores of its famous harbor and could be significantly affected by rising ocean levels.
“Growing the uptake of renewable energy is critical in combating the worst impacts of climate change,” Ms. Moore said. “We’re working towards a target of 50 per cent of all electricity in the City of Sydney area to come from renewables by 2030. To help us achieve that target we’re covering the roofs of our properties with as many solar panels as possible.
“By mid-2021, we expect to have more than 7,800 solar panels on the roofs of our properties. As the mix of storage and generation on our electricity grid changes, solar solutions like this could provide reliability and resilience to our electricity network and potentially prevent blackouts.”
She also said the battery installation will allow the depot to be classified as carbon neutral and eliminate about 600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
While not nearly as large as the Tesla battery storage facility installed in South Australia last year, the solar panels and batteries will allow the depot to reduce its demand on the grid during peak times while also cutting power costs. That first installation proved to doubters that battery storage could eliminate the need for costly peaker plants, electric generating facilities that are brought online during the hours of peak demand. The batteries will be remotely managed in real time by electricity transmission group TransGrid.
TransGrid chief executive Paul Italiano said battery storage will be playing a greater role in the future of Sydney’s electricity network. “This initiative with the City of Sydney will afford the depot a significant amount of energy self-sufficiency while also sharing benefits with the wider community through the electricity network. By partnering with a site where this service is needed, we can support the City of Sydney’s renewable energy goals and reduce the cost of the council’s depot,” he said. The goal is to install 1.5-megawatt hours of battery storage capacity across all council buildings in Sydney.
Tony Wood, energy director of the Grattan Institute, told the press at the ceremony there will be an expansion of this type of technology as Australia develops more renewable generation. “This is the perfect example of managing fluctuation in demand, as it can provide a very fast response when clouds are over the solar panels or demand levels spike. We saw evidence of the large Tesla battery doing exactly this in South Australia over summer.”