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Enel X in 5MWh battery storage pilot for Australian shopping centres

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Enel X will pilot the deployment of battery storage systems at two shopping centres in Australia with commercial real estate group Vicinity Centres.

Vicinity Centres has dozens of retail properties around Australia in its portfolio. The company claimed it is committed to decarbonising its operations to achieve net zero status at its common mall areas by 2030, implementing an Integrated Energy Strategy.

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Since 2018 the company has deployed just under 33MW of solar PV at 22 of its facilities, investing AU$73 million (US$50.64 million) in the process.

Its latest step forward is a joint development agreement with Enel X – the digital and advanced smart energy solutions arm of European utility Enel Group – for the battery storage pilot, at Broadmeadows Central in Victoria and Lake Haven Centre, New South Wales.

Onsite battery energy storage system (BESS) technology will be deployed with a combined capacity “of over 5MWh” between the two shopping centres, according to Enel X.

Work is already underway, and the systems are scheduled for commissioning in the middle of this year.

The BESS will be used to maximise the sites’ consumption of self-generated solar PV, reducing their reliance on grid energy. That should have the twin benefit of reducing Vicinity’s carbon footprint and electricity costs, but also reduce the strain the grid comes under, especially at times of peak demand.

Enel X said that if the projects are successful, there could be a potential 50MWh of further BESS deployments through the partnership.

“These projects will help Vicinity reduce costs by optimising the batteries’ charge and discharge strategy with our proprietary optimisation software DER.OS,” Enel X’s head of energy storage in Australia Matt Schultz said.

“The batteries will store excess renewable energy when spot electricity prices are low or negative and will generate when the local network is peaking, and prices are high.”

Schultz added that the onsite BESS will be onboarded to Enel X’s virtual power plant (VPP) platform, opening up new revenue streams such as through participation in the National Electricity Market (NEM) and its frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) markets which help balance the grid.

While the FCAS is a lucrative source of income for Australian battery projects, these opportunities tend to be more readily accessible to large-scale BESS assets. Aggregation into a VPP could open them up for smaller-scale systems too.

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