National Communities Batteries Funding Program receives more than ten times more applications than funding

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has reported an overwhelming response in the first round of its Community Batteries Funding Program.

Community battery bowen insta
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen and Sally Sitou MP at the Cabarita battery launch. Image: Chris Bowen Instagram.

ARENA launched Round 1 of the Community Batteries Funding Program in April with the goal of facilitating projects that could reduce energy costs, cut emissions, and ease the strain on the electricity grid through the implementation of community battery systems.

During the expression of interest stage, ARENA received a massive 140 eligible applications from all states and territories. These applications collectively sought funding of around $1.3 billion, which far exceeds the available funding of $120 million allocated for Round 1.

Out of the 140 applications, 31 have been shortlisted to move forward to the next stage. These projects span every state and territory in Australia and have a total grant request of $231 million, with a combined project value of $530 million. Among these shortlisted projects, 14 fall under Stream A, requesting $93 million, and 17 under Stream B, requesting $138 million in funding.

The Australian Government has allocated $200 million in the 2022-23 Federal Budget for the deployment of 400 community batteries across the country. Out of this, ARENA has been granted $171 million to deliver at least 342 community batteries. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will oversee the initial deployment of 58 community batteries through the Business Grants Hub, with batteries already commissioned in Cabarita and Narara as part of this program.

The requirements for these community battery projects involve installing a minimum of five batteries, with sizes ranging from 50 kW to 5 MW each, and connecting them to the distribution network. These community batteries serve a crucial role in storing excess solar energy for later use, thereby reducing household electricity costs and alleviating the local electricity grid's burden.

"In Round 1 of our Community Batteries Funding Program, we experienced tenfold demand in potential requests against the available $120 million," Darren Miller, CEO of ARENA, said.

"Through these initial projects, we hope to see community batteries enable cheaper, cleaner energy storage for communities and provide valuable knowledge that can be shared across Australia to fast track the implementation of these local batteries."

Successful applicants have been invited to submit full applications, with the submission deadline set for March 2024. The program's objective is to support a wide range of community battery projects, contributing to the transition to more sustainable and resilient energy systems across Australia.

To read more about the the benefits of Implementing Community-Scale Batteries, go to the ARENA website here.

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