The ACT government has formally opened a market sounding to establish a ‘Big Canberra Battery’, as part of a plan to massively increase the national capital’s storage capacity.
The ACT government is proposing to establish a network of distributed batteries, to form an ‘ecosystem’ that allows them to be coordinated and to operate as they were one big battery. It aims to have new capacity of 250MW, on top of the up to 120MW and two hours of storage that may be built through its wind auction process.
“Battery storage technology varies in size, location and core use,” ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said in a statement. “The market sounding process will allow industry and key stakeholder input on the range of possible services and infrastructure ahead of the procurement phase of the project.
“The aim of the Big Canberra Battery storage project is to increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the grid, better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network, reduce electricity price spikes and generate new revenue opportunities for the ACT.”
Rather than one big centralised battery, the ACT government is looking to establish a network of distributed battery systems, using energy storage spread out across Canberra suburbs and orchestrated to meet the needs of the grid. This will allow a group of smaller batteries to be coordinated in response to high price events, high demand periods and respond to grid stability needs.
The ACT government has committed $100 million in the most recent territory budget towards the establishment of the Big Canberra Battery system, with the aim of amassing up to 250MW of additional storage capacity. (Length of storage will be dictated by the results of any tender and grid requirements).
This is in addition to more than 100MW of big batteries that could be built in the ACT by Neoen and GPG as part of a deal to supply the ACT with renewable electricity, and is also on top of the 36MW of residential batteries installed across ACT homes and businesses.
Proportionally, this is a massive investment in energy storage capacity for a territory with population of just over 430,000.
The distributed battery systems could be used for a range of energy market services, including providing ancillary services, wholesale electricity price arbitrage, or reserve supply contracts, with the ACT government seeking input from the industry on the possible revenue models.
The ACT government is undertaking a market sounding process to gather proposals for how such a network of batteries could be created and how batteries could be installed across the ACT before progressing to a procurement process sometime next year.
In an open letter to industry, ACT Coordinator-General for Climate Action, Sam Engele, says the government will undertake a co-design process throughout April and May before asking for formal expressions of interest in the second half of the year.
“The procurement may deliver several batteries with a variety of capacities through one or many organisations,” the open letter says.
“This may include a small number of large-scale batteries (50 MW+), as well as a larger number of smaller, ‘precinct-scale’ batteries. Batteries could be connected to the ACT’s transmission or distribution network, located at government sites such as bus depots or co-located with large-scale renewable generation in the ACT.”
Canberra is set to host at least two conventional ‘big battery’ systems, secured as part of power purchase agreements signed with wind farm developers Neoen and GPG.
Neoen will supply the ACT with 100MW of wind power from the first stage of its Goyder Renewables Zone in South Australia and will construct a 50MW/100MWh big battery in Canberra which will be contracted to the ACT as part of the wind power supply deal. It has planning approval to expand this to 100MW/200MWh.
Neoen already operates Australia’s largest big battery system, the 150MW/193MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia.
GPG will likewise supply output from 100MW of Stage 2 of the Berrybank Wind Farm in Victoria and will also construct a 10MW/20MWh battery in the ACT.
The ACT government has asked interested parties to register their interest in participating in the market sounding process.