Home solar is becoming increasingly common as more households tap into the power of the sun to lower costs or reduce their impact on the environment.

That’s a fantastic option but it only works when the sun is out and most queries about household battery storage systems quickly evaporate once their still-prohibitive cost becomes known.

This is where utility-scale community batteries might step be a solution.

These provide solar users the option to store the power they generate during the day and be able to draw on the stored power during peak periods or at night without having to purchase their own systems.

The Western Australian government clearly believes that this is the right route to take with the official launch of a 464 kilowatt hour Tesla community battery storage system in Busselton, the first in the South West region and the fifth to be installed in Western Australia.

Installation of community batteries is a key part of the state’s Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, a five-year plan to guide the better integration of all distributed energy resources, including solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicles.

Integrating batteries into local communities is expected to help balance neighbourhood load profiles during the day and allow more homes to install solar panels.

The community storage batteries add to the growth of battery storage systems already installed including South Australia’s 100 megawatt (MW) Hornsdale battery system that recently secured approval for an expansion that will increase its size by 50 per cent.

And this could be dwarfed by a proposed $300m, 600MW storage system in Geelong to augment power supplies and improve grid reliability in Victoria.

Plug-in electric vehicle adoption is also expected to increase, particularly in Europe where manufacturers are already introducing new EVs to meet the European Union’s new vehicle emissions rules.

Together all these developments bode well for junior battery metal companies as they advance their projects.

Altura Mining (ASX:AJM) – Australia’s second lowest cost lithium producer – last week locked in a binding, multi-year offtake agreement with battery materials manufacturer and major shareholder Shanshan.

Years two to five of the five-year offtake agreement (2021 to 2025) have a confirmed minimum annual quantity of 60,000 dry metric tonnes, which makes up a significant portion of Altura’s 220,000-tonne-per-annum production capacity.

A separate contract for 2020 will see Altura provide 44,000dmt spodumene concentrate (SC6) product “in line with market price”.

Meanwhile, Talga’s (ASX:TLG) flagship Vittangi project has now been demarcated as a “mineral deposit of national interest” by the Swedish Geological Survey.

This means that municipalities and central government agencies cannot authorise activities “that might prevent or significantly hinder exploitation of the mineral deposit”.

Blackstone Minerals’ (ASX:BSX) ambition to produce nickel sulphate for the lithium-ion battery industry also received a boost after its maiden drill hole at the Ban Chang prospect returned a top intersection of 1.05m grading 2.98 per cent nickel, 1.22 per cent copper, 0.18 per cent cobalt and 3.43 grams per tonne (g/t) platinum group elements (PGE) from a depth of 58.5m.

This is located within a broader intercept of 5.2m at 0.66 per cent nickel, 0.73 per cent copper, 0.04 per cent cobalt and 0.79g/t PGE from 58m.

With all three maiden holes having intersected massive sulphide nickel over a 1km strike within the 1.2km massive sulphide target zone, the company will be looking forward to assays from the other two holes.

Meanwhile, Chalice Gold Mines’ (ASX:CHN) new drilling at its Julimar nickel-copper-PGE discovery near Perth in WA, returned results including 5.3g/t palladium, 1g/t platinum, 1.3 per cent nickel, 0.6 per cent copper, 0.07 per cent cobalt, 191m from surface.

Three rigs are currently drilling at the ‘Gonneville Intrusive’, where Chalice made its company-making discovery in March.

At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Talga Mining and Blackstone Minerals are a Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article.