While you were sleeping (in)… news you may have missed

Man hits snooze on alarm clock (energy news)
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If you’ve joined the masses returning to desks this week, whether at home or at work, here’s a brief rundown of some energy news highlights that took place while we were all out of office.

Neoen’s Bulgana Green Power Hub begins full-scale commercial operation

Neoen has achieved full-scale commercial operation of its Bulgana Green Power Hub located in Stawell, Victoria. The hybrid power plant consists of a 204MW wind farm comprising 56 turbines and a 20MW/34MWh Tesla battery. It has the capacity to generate 750,000MWh of clean energy annually, enough to power around 150,000 homes.
 
Bulgana Green Power Hub is underpinned by a 15-year Support Agreement with the Victorian Government, contributing towards the state’s Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 50 per cent by 2030.
 
The AU$350 million investment has delivered a significant economic boost to the Wimmera region through the creation of over 150 construction jobs and 5 full time permanent jobs. Now that the Power Hub is operating, it is estimated to be generating annual benefits of $40.6 million for the Victorian economy, according to an independent economic impact report. Local community-building and sustainability initiatives are being supported through an annual $120,000 Community Benefit Fund established by Neoen and administered by the Northern Grampians Shire Council.
 
Bulgana Green Power Hub joins Numurkah Solar Farm (128MWp) and the Victorian Big Battery (300MW/450MWh) to take Neoen’s operating Victorian portfolio to 652MW across the three technologies of wind, solar and battery storage.

Related article: Construction begins on Neoen’s 100MW Capital Battery

$100 million to support the next generation of grid scale batteries

ARENA announced a $100 million competitive funding round for grid scale batteries equipped with advanced inverters to support the grid. 

ARENA’s Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round will provide up to $100 million funding to new battery energy storage projects of 70MW or larger operating in the National Electricity Market or Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market. In addition to supporting new build projects, funding will also be available to existing grid scale batteries seeking to retrofit advanced inverter capability.

The funding round aims to incentivise and derisk private sector investment and overcome barriers to the deployment of advanced inverter technology. By funding advanced inverter technology at scale, ARENA hopes to provide valuable insights into the operations and emerging capabilities of advanced inverters. 

It is expected that the funding round will support at least three projects, with a maximum grant available of $35 million per project. Applications will be open to all battery energy storage technologies, provided that they are equipped with advanced inverters.
Advanced inverters enable grid scale batteries to provide system stability services traditionally provided by synchronous generation, such as coal or gas. Finding new ways of providing stability to the electricity system will enable the grid to operate with higher shares of variable renewable energy.

BlueFloat and Energy Estate eye 4.3GW offshore wind projects

Offshore wind developer BlueFloat Energy and Australian developer Energy Estate are working together on three offshore wind projects in Australia with a total planned capacity of 4.3GW. 

The two companies are assessing a number of additional sites in each of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. They plan to announce further projects in early 2022.  

The 1400MW Hunter Coast floating offshore wind project is planned for a site off the coast south of Newcastle in New South Wales —an area earmarked for offshore wind development by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in its draft 2022 Integrated System Plan. 

The project is expected to support the Hunter region’s transition from coal-fired power, with the developers planning to use its output to supply existing large energy users such as Tomago’s aluminium smelter, and to produce green hydrogen.

Woodside, BP and MIMI to study CCS in Western Australia

Woodside, bp and Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) Pty Ltd, owned equally by Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co Ltd, have agreed to form a consortium to progress feasibility studies for a large-scale, multi-user Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project near Karratha in Western Australia.

The consortium brings together the diverse capabilities of three industry leaders to assess the technical, regulatory and commercial feasibility of capturing carbon emitted by multiple industries located near Karratha on the Burrup Peninsula and storing it in offshore reservoirs in the Northern Carnarvon Basin.

The study represents an important step towards the development of one of Australia’s first multi-user CCS projects, ideally located to aggregate emissions from various existing sources. It would also help facilitate the development of new lower-carbon industries, such as the production of hydrogen and ammonia, by providing a local solution for emissions.

AGL takes part in SA Government EV smart charging trial

AGL will help to electrify parking stations in the Adelaide CBD, after being awarded a $250,000 grant from the South Australian Government as part of its Electric Vehicle (EV) Smart Charging Trial.
 
Through the grant, AGL will partner with Wilson Parking, installing 18 EV chargers in three car parks, and providing selected clients with subsidised EV subscriptions, enabling customers to stay charged and get behind the wheel of an EV.
 
The chargers installed by AGL will have smart charging capabilities, efficiently using power to charge vehicles during periods of high renewable generation.

Related article: AGL readies power plants for summer demand

Australia’s first laser nuclear fusion company appoints scientific board

Australia’s first laser nuclear fusion energy company HB11 Energy has formally appointed a scientific board composed of the world’s luminary laser and fusion energy experts, united with a common goal of re-establishing Australia as a leader in fusion and clean energy technology.

Professor Dimitri Batani from the Intense Lasers and Applications Center (University of Bordeaux) has been appointed as lead scientist in charge of 19 researchers across 10 universities, with plans to grow the team to over 50 in the near-term.

He is one of the few researchers globally involved in several historically significant demonstrations of hydrogen-boron fusion with lasers, significantly improving HB11 Energy’s ability to become the first company in the world to successfully commercialise nuclear fusion energy.

Former ANSTO CEO Dr Adi Paterson has also joined the scientific advisory board and will bring extensive experience in nuclear energy research and first-of-a-kind nuclear reactor engineering. He joins Guest Scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (University of Rochester) Professor Tom Mehlhorn, Director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (University of Rochester) Dr Mike Campbell, and laser engineering professor Professor Dieter Hoffman.

Lukasz Gadowski, one of the fathers of the German startup ecosystem and co-founder of DAX-listed Delivery Hero, was also appointed as director after being lead investor on a significantly oversubscribed $4.6 million round earlier this year.

The appointments follow the recent release of new research led by HB11’s founders and other world-leading laser experts, which unveiled some of the key physics responsible for achieving laser fusion between hydrogen and boron—a reaction that was previously thought impossible.