Two large-scale batteries to be constructed in Victoria

Two large-scale, grid-connected batteries are set to charge ahead in Victoria.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced it will match the $25 million by the Victorian Government to jointly fund the batteries as part of the Victorian energy storage initiative.

The $50 million in funding will see the rollout of two battery projects, which will together deliver 55MW of power and can provide approximately 80MWh of energy storage capacity.

The Tesla 25MW/50MWh battery, owned by Edify Energy and Wirsol, will be integrated with the 60MW Gannawarra Solar Farm – south-west of Kerang – and will store renewable energy produced on site.

“We are very proud to have designed and delivered the first combined utility-scale solar and storage facility in Victoria,” Edify Energy CEO John Cole said.

“It is unprecedented in Australia at this scale and is among the largest in the world.

“The team has worked tirelessly to overcome many regulatory, technical and commercial challenges and create a very cool project – one that can deploy solar power at night.

“Without a doubt as the cost of battery storage falls, we see solar and storage becoming a ‘category killer’ in the energy sector and accelerating Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.”

The second battery is a 30MW/30MWh system connected directly to a vital grid intersection at a substation at Warrenheip, near Ballarat.

In total, $25 million will be provided to a consortia led by Spotless Sustainability Services to build the battery, supplied by Fluence and owned by AusNet.

Together, these projects will help ease constraints on transmission lines in western Victoria that currently curtail the output of existing wind and solar farms and will also help to support future renewable generation.

“We said we would deliver this for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Victoria’s Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“This initiative is an important part of helping us transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system.

“We are continuing to modernise our electricity grid, strengthen our energy security and deliver real action on climate change.”

Both batteries will be operated by EnergyAustralia under long-term offtake agreements.

Under the agreements, EnergyAustralia will hold rights to charge and dispatch energy from the battery storage systems at Gannawarra and Ballarat into the National Electricity Market until 2030 and 2033 respectively.

EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Tanna said the projects were a great example of the technologies that are underpinning development of a new, modern energy system in Australia.

“Renewable energy is an obvious contributor to filling the gap left by the retirement of coal power plants, but it has to be available when it’s needed, even at cloudy and windless times,” Ms Tanna said.

“That’s where battery storage comes into its own, with its ability to store wind and solar energy for quick release, keeping the lights on and costs down.

“Utility-scale batteries, demand response, pumped hydro and energy recovery – all the ingredients are there for a modern energy system that can deliver reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for customers.

“The challenge is planning: getting the right balance and mix of energy and doing it at least cost.”

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the announcement places Australia as a world-leader in battery storage, following grid-scale batteries in South Australia.

“ARENA is excited to be demonstrating the capabilities that these new batteries will provide in securing reliable electricity for western Victoria and to facilitate the Victoria’s transition to renewable energy,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Battery storage will play a crucial role in the future energy mix, alongside other forms of storage and in conjunction with variable renewables and demand management.”

Construction is due to commence this month, with both batteries to be commissioned in time for the summer peak.