Vicinity, Enel X to Bring Battery Energy Storage to Retail Sector

January 17, 2023 by Stephanie Leonida

To integrate renewables and economize on energy consumption, Vicinity, and Enel X, are working together to pilot battery storage at two retail centers.

In a recent announcement, the energy transformation company, Enel X, informed its customer base of its entry into a joint venture agreement with Vicinity. Under the agreement, batteries will be piloted at two of Vicinity’s retail centers to push forward the company’s Integrated Energy Strategy. Previously known as Federation Centers and Centro Properties Group, Vicinity Centres (Vicinity) is an Australian real estate business that provides property management, retail operation and development, and leasing services. 


The evolution of the microgrid system into the VPP system. Image used courtesy of Nafkha-Tayari et al, 2022

The evolution of the microgrid system into the VPP system. Image used courtesy of Nafkha-Tayari et al, 2022


Virtual Power Plants

A virtual power plant (VPP) pools decentralized energy assets, which are operated and coordinated through a centralized control system. A VPP, with its pooled storage units, distributed energy resources (DERs), and controllable loads, acts as a single power plant under an energy management system. VPP systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and balance energy production and consumption.

Commercial VPPs can respond to changes in market price, while technical VPPs, like a microgrid, can contribute to the supply/demand balance of the electrical system by responding to network operator signals. Using VPPs like this can help reduce peak electricity prices during high demand.

In addition to integrating renewable energy sources into the grid, VPPs can also provide real-time information on the status of the grid, allowing for better decision-making regarding managing resources. By using a VPP, operators can respond quickly to changes in demand or supply, ensuring that the grid remains stable and reliable.


The Energy-intensive Retail Sector

According to the Australian Government’s industry guide for the retail sector, retail is one of the country’s most energy-intensive industries. The retail center contributes to 50 percent of energy consumption in the commercial property sector and 5 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Within retail centers, lighting, the marketing of appliances, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) systems are being targeted to conserve energy consumption and cut operating costs. A passive design strategy involves the construction of buildings with the integration of elements of nature. This means natural ventilation and lighting where possible. 

Additionally, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is becoming increasingly employed, especially solar PV cells for car park roofing. Solar PV glass is a new technology that uses transparent glass that gathers infrared (IR) light and redirects/deflects it back to the surface edge, turning it into electricity. 


Vicinity and Enel X team up to pilot battery storage at two of the former company’s retail centers. Image used courtesy of Eneltec Group

Vicinity and Enel X team up to pilot battery storage at two of the former company’s retail centers. Image used courtesy of Eneltec Group


Steps to lower energy consumption and GHG emissions in the retail sector involve integrating renewable energy sources like solar, but these can be unreliable. Companies like Vicinity aim to deploy batteries alongside automated energy demand management and solar-powered technology to tackle this problem. This approach is intended to reduce reliance on the main power grid and optimize energy production.

Vicinity's sustainability strategy is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 in the common areas of malls owned by them.


Battery Contributions

Under the agreement, Enel X will procure, run, and optimize the batteries to get the best value from energy markets. Vicinity will be responsible for the planning, procurement, and building of the batteries. 

The construction of two batteries with a combined power of more than 5 megawatt-hours (MWh) is underway at the Lake Haven Center, New South Wales, and Broadmeadows Central, Victoria. Construction is expected to be complete by the middle of 2023.

The Enel X Distributed Energy Resource Optimization Software (DER.OS) will manage battery operations. The software’s site-level controls and cloud-based energy management platform are designed to help customers predict peak demand and minimize charges, store solar energy collected on-site, deploy when usage is high, monitor grid conditions and predict loads, and participate in demand response.

Demand response is a strategy to manage energy usage by incentivizing consumers to reduce their electricity consumption during peak hours. It is an important tool for managing the grid and helping utilities balance supply and demand. By encouraging consumers to reduce their energy usage during peak hours, demand response helps utilities avoid blackouts and brownouts, reduce emissions, and save money on electricity costs.