ACT Labor wants to establish one of the world’s largest battery systems in Canberra, announcing an election pledge on Wednesday to build a 250MW ‘Big Canberra Battery’, if it wins re-election in a few weeks time.
The plan, unveiled by ACT Labor leader Andrew Barr, would see a third big battery built in Canberra, with Barr boasting that the latest battery would be bigger than the largest currently in Australia, the Hornsdale Power Reserve – the so-called Tesla big battery – in South Australia.
“ACT Labor’s Big Canberra Battery will deliver at least 250MW of battery storage – ensuring lower electricity prices and a more stable and resilient power grid,” Barr said. He did not indicate how many hours of storage were envisaged.
“This major Canberra project will be significantly bigger than the Hornsdale Battery in South Australia, which is being upgraded to hold 150MW of storage.”
Barr said that the battery system would be established through the interconnection of several smaller battery systems across the ACT.
“ACT Labor’s Big Canberra Battery will involve a distributed network of batteries that will be built around the city. As a combined network, this battery system can address network constraints, enable more Canberrans to have solar and shorten the pay-off period of domestic solar systems,” Barr added.
“After delivering 100% renewable electricity, battery storage is the key next step to protect the ACT when fossil fuel generators fail during hot summers. ACT Labor recognises that low-cost energy storage is the missing-link in the transition to a 100% renewable National Electricity Market.”
The battery pledged by ACT Labor would be in addition to two big batteries that have already been secured by the ACT government under a recently completed reverse auction. As part of a deal to purchase the supply of power from two new 100MW wind farms being developed by Neoen and Global Power Generation, the two companies will also build big battery systems in Canberra.
Neoen will construct a battery system of at least 50MW, with two hours storage, and Global Power Generation is set to build a 10MW/20MWh, as per the terms of the wind power supply deal with the ACT, that is aimed to ensure the territory maintains its status as 100 per cent renewably powered.
The election pledge is one of a flurry of announcements from parties ahead of the ACT election scheduled for mid-October, as the battle for one of Australia’s leading jurisdictions on climate action and clean energy investment heats up.
ACT Labor has previously pledged to introduce $150 million worth of interest free loans to support Canberra households install rooftop solar, battery storage and heat pumps, and would construct two zero-emissions schools in Canberra’s west.
The latest big battery commitment was welcomed by think tank The Australia Institute, which said that the construction of a 250MW big battery system in the ACT would complement its established portfolio of wind and solar projects that supply the territory with 100 per cent renewable electricity.
“The ACT has been at the forefront of the clean energy transition, was the first jurisdiction outside Europe to go 100% net renewables for its electricity and now it might add another feather to its cap with the biggest battery in the country,” The Australia Institute’s climate and energy program director Richie Merzian said.
“The ACT has the most ambitious emission reduction plan in Australia, to hit net zero by 2045 and its great to see equally ambitious projects to deliver on that target like big batteries and shifting away from using fossil gas.”
The election pledge was also welcomed by the Clean Energy Council.
“It’s great to see a strong commitment by ACT Labor to match its leadership in supporting new renewable energy generation with a big vision for energy storage capability,” said Clean Energy Council chief executive, Kane Thornton said.
“Battery storage can ensure that energy users have access to clean, low-cost renewable electricity 24/7, and government support can accelerate the deployment as the cost of storage comes down.”
The announcement comes just a day after ACT Labor leader Andrew Barr took a swipe Labor’s partner in the Legislative Assembly, the ACT Greens, describing their plan to phase out gas use in the ACT as a ‘crazy Greens proposal’.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury hit back, saying that the comments from Chief Minister Andrew Barr suggested that the Labor Party was “shying away from major and urgent climate action.”
The ACT Greens wants to see the ACT become one of the first jurisdictions to completely phase out the use if gas, setting a deadline of 2040 for the goal. The Greens announced that it would support the development of a new all-electric, gas free, town centre in the Canberra district of Molonglo.