FAQs

This con­tent has been writ­ten by the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy in col­lab­o­ra­tion with engi­neers and oth­er ener­gy indus­try experts with­in the Con­sor­tium Mem­ber organ­i­sa­tions of Alice Springs Future Grid, and on occa­sion, Project Asso­ciates. Please sub­mit your ques­tions, which will be answered in due course and shared on this plat­form if rel­e­vant and appro­pri­ate. You will be noti­fied via email when the answer is post­ed. Terms and con­di­tions are detailed on the sub­mit a ques­tion page. 

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What does the big BESS battery at Ron Goodin power station actually do?

The Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Alice Springs is designed to provide grid stability services. This is much-needed, as the town has a high proportion of rooftop solar PV, which can create challenges in the grid during periods of high cloud coverage, requiring thermal generation to react as quickly as possible to pick up the slack. In these instances, the BESS can almost immediately support the grid while thermal generation ramps up or down. If it were to be used purely for storage, the battery would last about 40 minutes. Proportional to the size of the Alice Springs grid, it is the biggest battery in Australia. This perhaps illustrates why centralised battery storage alone isn’t a viable solution to support high renewable penetration in a town like Alice, just yet.

If I have an old PV system, can I retrofit a battery onto that or is it cheaper to replace everything with a new system?

Residential batteries can be fitted to most households with existing PV systems. Replacing the entire system will depend on the age of the infrastructure – panels and inverter primarily. Further information should be sought from accredited CEC installers, or alternatively see websites such as Solarquotes to gain a better understanding of the various technicalities.

Can I go fully off-grid in town? What will it cost me?

With solar PV and batteries it is technically possible to go off-grid, but Alice Springs residents would need a very big battery or backup diesel generator to cover occasions where there is limited sun for consecutive days. The most common option is to install PV and BESS in proportion to household needs, and let the grid come to the rescue when its needed. In the future, plentiful PV and BESS will create a very resilient system, because it’s highly unlikely that they could all fail at once. For most people it is not financially viable to go off-grid, but as centralised energy generation incorporates a growing proportion of renewables, it means everyone will eventually be provided with cleaner energy.

What does it cost to install a battery at my house if I already have PV?

Quotes will depend on your particular specifications and should always be sought from a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.


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