Sixty households in Newcastle and Scone in New South Wales, Australia, will be fitted with their own mini power station to test powering the network during peak times under the Smart Grid, Smart City project. Participating homes in Scone will form Australia's first micro-grid, which will power local households and help shield them from outages using battery storage and other energy sources connected to the grid.

Ausgrid energy-efficiency expert Paul Myors said households would be invited to take part in the trials by mid-year, which would involve installing an energy-storage unit on their property for two years. “We're testing whether energy-storage technology can make the electricity supply more reliable and give customers greater control over their household energy use,” said Myors. “It will help us understand the technical impacts of adding battery storage to the grid and the opportunities to use those resources to power local areas during essential maintenance or outages.

Homes on the micro-grid can be powered independently of the electricity network using battery storage and other energy generation to be added to the grid including wind and solar.

Elermore Vale in Newcastle and Scone in the Hunter were selected following technical assessments of Ausgrid's local network and because they represent other urban and rural areas in Australia that could benefit from the trial.

The 5-kW zinc-bromine batteries are the size of a slim-line fridge and would be installed outside, near a household meter board. The steel-covered unit includes a battery, inverter as well as control and communications systems. The 60 energy-storage systems will be monitored by Ausgrid engineers throughout the trial.