Nova Scotia Power says a pilot project to test Tesla Powerwalls in 10 homes in the community of Elmsdale, along with a large, grid-sized battery – the Tesla Powerpack –  at a nearby substation, has been successful.

The batteries are connected to an electrical line powered, in part, by nearby wind turbines. The question now is what comes next for the technology.

Dubbed the “Intelligent Feeder Project,” the pilot project was designed to help NS Power understand how batteries can make renewable energy more efficient, while providing back-up power to customers during outages – a big advance in these times of increasingly violent storms and worsening weather. The project was launched in 2017, in partnership with Tesla and Ontario energy company, Opus One Solutions.

The challenge with renewable energy, such as wind and solar, is matching generation with customer demand. The substation battery in Elmsdale, which is about the size of a shipping container, allows the utility to store power generated when the wind is blowing  and then supply that power to the grid to match customer demand.

NS Power isn’t alone in tapping into the potential of these batteries.

Saint John Energy recently received a 1.25MW, utility-scale Tesla Megapack battery for one of its substations. The Megapack battery will give Saint John Energy advanced power storage in order to reduce peak energy costs and efficiently use more renewable energy sources. The utility is currently in a partnership to construct a wind farm that will generate about 15 per cent of the city’s electricity needs.

The Nova Scotia pilot project cost about $3.2 million and is one of the first battery installations of its kind in Canada.

While only 10 homes were chosen for the Powerwall test, the utility estimates the battery at the substation could power up to 300 homes. NS Power says the next step will be more analysis of the cost of lithium-ion batteries, which currently are beyond the pocketbooks of many homeowners.