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Australia’s ‘largest battery’ to be added to solar powered astronomy hub

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The solar system being built to power one of Australia’s leading star-gazing facilities – the CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia – could soon be combined with the nation’s biggest battery, after EMC (Energy Made Clean) was appointed to engineer, procure and construct a 2.5MWh energy storage system at the  site.

The lithium-ion battery system will be 100% designed, engineered and constructed by EMC – who are already in the process of building the Observatory’s 1.6MW solar power station – at its Perth facility.

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Among telescopes the solar and storage system will be powering is CSIRO’s newest edition, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) – which stands to be one of the most powerful survey radio astronomy instruments on the planet.

Currently in commissioning phase, ASKAP will allow astronomers to answer some fundamental questions about the creation and early evolution of our Universe, and to test theories of cosmic magnetism and predictions from Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

There is a slightly smaller 2MWh battery destined to be installed on the regional Victorian grid by network operator Powercor in early 2016. But as the Powercor battery is being built in South Korea, EMC says the CSIRO battery system will have the advantage of creating extensive Australian-owned IP that can be deployed into many other applications throughout the region.

Construction is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2016 and the containerised, rapidly deployable energy storage solution will be fully tested and commissioned in Perth before being transported to site for connection to the 1.6MW solar generator.

The lithium-ion batteries and control systems to be deployed are similar to those being used by EMC for the Alkimos 1.2MWh battery project for Synergy that is on schedule for completion in December.  

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