ACT opens big solar + wind auction to boost battery storage

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ACT opens auction process for another 109MW of wind and solar, with money raised to be used for one of largest battery storage rollouts in the world.

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The ACT government has opened its latest auction for large scale wind and solar projects, seeking proposals that will provide financial support for the biggest deployment of battery storage outside of Germany.

The auction will seek capacity of 109MW of wind and solar projects, and other technologies, with winning bidders required to provide finance totalling up to $25 million for the installation of 36MW of battery storage to support solar PV installed in homes and businesses in the capital territory.

Environment and climate change minister Simon Corbell said the money from the large scale auction – effectively around $240,000 for each MW of capacity installed – should be enough to help subsidise the roll out of battery storage in more than 5,000 homes and businesses.

“PV-battery storage will revolutionise the renewable energy sector by storing renewable energy so it is on demand exactly when we need it, reducing the need for network investment,” Corbell said.

“It means households can capture the maximum value of the energy they are producing and I am excited that the ACT is once again at the forefront of investment and innovation in this sector.”

The auction of large scale renewable energy will also take the ACT to its target of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020. It has already conducted auctions for 50MW of solar capacity, and two auctions of 200MW of wind capacity.

royalla 1

One solar farm, the 20MW Royalla project (pictured above) has been completed, while another is being built, one wind farm in Victoria is already generating electricity and two other wind projects in Victoria and South Australia are being built. Other projects in NSW are still in planning stages.

The ACT government says the new large scale capacity auction will be open to proposals from both wind and solar generators, but will not be restricted to those technologies.

“With new technologies arising frequently, consideration will also be given to expanding the definition of eligible generators, possibly expanding the types of technology able to be used in the project.”

The ACT auction process has underpinned nearly all the investment in large scale wind and solar in Australia in recent years, with the main federal mechanism, the renewable energy target, at a standstill after investors and developers lost faith in the process after the Coalition government reviewed and then cut the target.

The auction process has elicited the lowest bids for wind generation in the country by inviting offers for fixed, 20 year contracts. Winning bids were also judged on their proposals to boost industry in Canberra, with many supporting R&D or moving their headquarters to the national capital.

Corbell says this has resulted in more than $400 million in local investment being secured for the territory.

The new auction process will require bidders to provide cash funding of the battery storage program, which in turn will hold it own capacity auctions for the next four years to seek ongoing price reductions and technology improvements.

One pilot auction has already been held, with the results to be announced in coming weeks.

“It is exciting to see the 90% renewable energy target on-track to be completed on time and with minimal flow-on cost for the Canberra community,” Corbell said in a statement.

The cost to householders to achieve the ACT’s 90% renewable energy target remains around $5 per household per week, which is offset by government mandated energy efficiency programs.

The request for proposals opens today and closes on May 13, with an industry briefing to be held in early April.

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  1. Ron Horgan 4 years ago

    Where exactly does the southern border of ACT end?
    If it could be extended to Bass Strait, one fine morning we might wake up with a progressive government. In fact expansion of ACT to the shoreline in all directions might solve many problems which seem to be just too hard for the present incumbents?

    • Rob 4 years ago

      What a good idea!

  2. John Bromhead 4 years ago

    The solar auctions have been for 40MW made up of three solar farms. Any smaller scale solar farms, such as a 2MW solar farm in the Majura Valley, a 600MW facility on a school roof, part of the Elementus Energy solar facility (3.6MW DC) and a 1MW solar facility owned by a small group of Canberrans all had their projects granted by application and at government determined feed-in tariffs.

    There is only one wind farm project in NSW with an ACT PPA at the moment. This is at $92/MWh which is 20% higher than the second Hornsdale Wind Farm price and assuming the facilities achieve similar market prices for electricity, the subsidy will be an even a larger fraction.

    The $25 million for battery storage will be loaded on to the 20 year tariff offered the new generation and it will be interesting to see how high these tariffs will be.

    The community is being spun the yarn that the additional $100 million per year will be offset by energy reductions. While individual households might be able to defray the higher electricity cost, the community cannot.

    The only way this could happen is if 1450GWh of electricity was cut from 3000GWh of consumption. This is volume of wholesale electricity can be put into the ACT for $100 million.

    The ACT Government must not expect that to happen because, by the time this year’s ACT election is held and Simon Corbell has exited the Legislative Assembly the ACT Government will have put in place PPAs for over 1900GWh of large scale wind and 85GWh of solar. This amounts to over 2700GWh of renewable electricity when combined other sources of renewable electricity. In 2020, contained in the mainly fossil-fuelled electricity from NSW will be 120GWh of hydroelectricity from the Snowy Mountains and 500GWh of renewable credit due to the large-scale RET scheme. Included will be about 100MWh from gross feed-in tariff schemes and that part of newer solar generation not self consumed. The ACT Government also intends to count the contribution from those silly enough to still be buying GreenPower.

  3. Andrew Woodroffe 4 years ago

    36MW of battery storage?


    for a second? a minute? an hour? a day?


    Am I really the only one who does not think MW is remotely sufficient to size storage?

    • david H 4 years ago

      Agreed, it is somewhat meaningless. I assume the 36MW is the maximum rate of supply. What we also need to know is the MWh of storage capacity.

  4. david H 4 years ago

    Another very important differentiation between the RET and the ACT reverse auctions is that the RET only runs to 2030 and is subject to continuous tinkering. So for example if a new wind farm were to get development approval today, by the time it is operational it will only have c10 years of operation under a “fuzzy” RET scheme. Whereas the ACT reverse auction is for a guaranteed 20 years under a guaranteed contract.
    I know where I would rather put my mony.

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