Labor has promised a community battery for Daylesford if it is elected. A battery would supercharge the benefits of solar.

More than 1,100 households in the Daylesford area have rooftop solar but the high price of household batteries means families are still struggling to realise the full potential of rooftop panels, putting more pressure on our electricity grid.

Of those more than 1,100 households, just 14 have registered a battery.

If a battery is installed, it will allow local households to feed solar power into the shared battery during the day and draw from it at night – cutting electricity bills and emissions and reducing pressure on the grid.

Hepburn Energy welcomed Labor’s commitment.

A 1 MWh battery can power up to 1,000 average homes for about two hours. Yackandandah installed a 274 kilowatt-hour battery last year for $200,000.

The first trial of community batteries was is in the Perth suburb of Alkimos Beach in 2016. It is anticipated community batteries will become widespread over the next five years. For example, Yarra Energy Foundation has a goal of 200 within seven years.

The trial found that around 100 households that participated saved about $36 per bill. Energy consumption from the grid decreased by 85 percent during peak periods.

There is an ongoing debate whether community or household batteries are better strategy for the future.

Virtual Power Plants where networks of households with roof top solar and home batteries form a coordinated network could act as a power source. But there are concerns that this inefficient and difficult to coordinate and scale up. As well many in the community do not trust large energy companies as the local campaign against AusNet has demonstrated.

One of the great advantages of community providers like Hepburn Wind is that local communities have much more trust in these organisations than large energy companies. Community batteries combined with roof top solar and community energy providers are an alternative that may become more common.

More localised and distributed energy has the capacity to stablize the grid and to reduce power bills for local residents. They are a part of the overall picture to decarbonise the economy.