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NSW network to trial 1MWh grid support battery, as new suburbs boom

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Image Source: Illawarra Mercury

NSW network operator Endeavour Energy is set to trial a 1MWh grid-connected battery in the booming Wollongong suburb of West Dapto, in a bid to defer the construction of a costly new substation, and reduce network investment by up to $1 million a year.

Endeavour said on Thursday that Victoria-based outfit, MPower, had won the contract to supply and install the battery – set to be the largest of its kind installed in the state – at the site of the future West Dapto Zone Substation.

The project will trial the use of grid-connected energy storage as a way to help meet new demand – and to give the network more time and flexibility while it gauges future demand – while keeping a lid on costs to customers, against a backdrop of booming housing development in the area.

As the Illawarra Mercury reported in April this year, new homes are selling like hot cakes in West Dapto, which is great news for the developers, but problematic for the Wollongong Council and utilities like Endeavour, as they work to build vital new infrastructure.

For its part, Endeavour is keen to use new, and increasingly affordable energy technology like battery storage, to help it negotiate the growing demands on its network, and to defer the inevitable need for new substations, each of which will cost between $20-30 million – a cost that is then passed on to customers.

Endeavour says it selected MPower for the job based on its demonstrated capabilities in delivering large-scale solar installations and micro-grid power systems in Australia and New Zealand.

As we have reported, the Victorian company has plenty of major solar and storage projects under its belt, and in June won the contract to design and install a 5.6MWh battery system in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands in the Pacific – a $A4.1 million installation that will be added to the 1MW Te Mana Ra solar PV facility.

In Australia, the company has worked with Rio Tinto and First Solar in the remote Queensland town of Weipa, to build an ARENA-supported 1.7MW solar PV project to power a remote bauxite mining operation.

MPower’s 1MWh West Dapto battery system – which will be the size of a shipping container – is expected to supply about 600 new homes in West Dapto, while the network goes through the critical and often lengthy process of planning and building a new substation for the area.

According to Endeavour’s general manager of asset management, Ty Christopher, similar battery systems could be deployed in other growth areas on the network to defer the construction of up to four new zone substations by 2024, each expected to cost between $25-30 million.

“This is an important milestone in adapting our network to meet the future energy needs of our customers,” Christopher said in a statement on Thursday.

“Battery storage systems have significant potential to reduce network capital costs, help manage load growth, peak demand, power quality and supply interruptions.”

Christopher noted that the network was also working to keep up with changes being driven by customers, who were embracing new technologies like solar and battery storage at the household level.

“Our customers have told us they want us to be working to secure their future electricity supply and help them reduce their electricity bills,” he said.

“We believe battery energy storage at West Dapto could reduce network investment by up to $1 million per year to keep downward pressure on our network charges.”

According to an Endeavour Energy spokesperson, installation of the battery system will begin in mid-2018, with the trial expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2018.  

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  • Joe

    A VPP of sorts. I hope this one goes better than AGL’s ‘suspended’ VPP in Adelaide. You know the one where AGL’s Andy V held a presser which was overtaken by Premier Jay and Joshie F having a ‘friendly chat’.

    • Mark Byrne

      I don’t think so; it’s a single large battery and there’s no indication it would mainly store excess local solar output. It seems to be intended to reduce the peak demand pressure on existing substations in a new residential area and so defer the need for a new substation – a saving through deferral of about $1M pa on the $20-30M substation cost.