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AGL picks Wärtsilä and Fluence to deliver on 1000MW big battery vision

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AGL Energy will partner with battery technology firms Wärtsilä and Fluence to deliver on up to 1,000MW of planned big battery energy storage projects.

AGL said on Thursday that it had secured ‘non-exclusive framework agreements’ with the two companies for the supply of the big battery systems, following a competitive tender process.

Last year, AGL revealed during an update to shareholders that it was targeting 1.2GW of new energy storage capacity by 2024, with 850MW to be provided through battery storage projects, as the company works to pivot its electricity generation business away from coal generation to cleaner sources.

“This framework agreement is another example of AGL getting on with the business of energy transition and will enable delivery against our commitment to build 850MW of grid-scale battery storage by FY2024,” AGL Energy COO Markus Brokhof said.

“Wärtsilä and Fluence are both global leaders in energy storage technologies, ensuring we are investing in the highest standards for performance, reliability and safety. We are already well advanced with our planning process and these framework agreements will reduce tender timeframes for individual projects, enabling faster project schedules and commercial operation.

As has been an emerging trend amongst Australia’s largest energy companies, AGL plans to construct a number of big battery systems at existing generation facilities, including at some of the company’s coal-fired generation sites.

AGL is Australia’s single largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, as the operator of some of Australia’s largest coal-fired power stations, but has announced a commitment to transitioning to zero net emissions by 2050.

“Grid-scale batteries allow AGL to leverage excess solar and wind generation to provide capacity when renewable sources are not generating,” Brokhof said. “These plans are part of the commitments made in our Climate Statement which targets net zero emissions by 2050.”

Last year, AGL said that it was planning to construct a 200MW battery system at its Loy Yang A power station site, a 150MW battery at the soon to be closed Liddell power station, as well as a 50MW and 250MW systems at Broken Hill and Torrens Island respectively.

“We’re excited to see our grid-scale battery plans begin to come to life; we know energy storage technology is critical in creating cleaner and smarter distributed energy infrastructure,” Brokhof added.

“Our grid-scale battery plans provide critical firming capacity to the market and will play a leading role in the energy industry’s transition over the coming decades.”

AGL’s announcement of its preferred battery supplies follows announcements by Neoen and Origin Energy of their own ambitious battery plans, each to be connected to network infrastructure originally built for coal-fired power stations.

By using pre-purposing infrastructure previously built for coal plants to connect to the grid, project developers are able to avoid substantial costs of establishing new connection points.

Fluence, a company formed through a partnership between energy technology giants Siemens and AES, has previous completed the installation of a battery storage system at the Lincoln Gap wind farm in South Australia, as well as Victoria’s first big battery system in Ballarat.

Fluence Vice President of Global Markets Jan Teichmann said that the partnership with AGL would help take the scale of battery storage projects in Australia to “the next level”.

“Australia’s grid is evolving quickly, and batteries can fill critical gaps left by coal and gas retirements, both the super-fast services needed to strengthen the grid and as a source of peak power,” Teichmann said.

“As a pioneer of the technology, Fluence’s team has seen the demand for energy storage grow to where we are now regularly contracting and deploying both 100+ MW storage solutions and portfolios of storage assets on grids around the world.”

Wärtsilä has also previously worked within the Australian market, securing a partnership with wind farm developer CWP to deliver a big battery system at the Sapphire wind farm in New South Wales.

“AGL is a valued customer for Wärtsilä and we look forward to providing our smart technology solutions to support AGL’s plans for critical firming capacity that will play a leading role in the energy transition from coal to renewables,” Wärtsilä Energy Sales Director, Suraj Narayan said.

AGL’s announcement of its chosen battery suppliers follows Neoen revealing its own plans to construct a 500MW big battery project at the site of the former Wallerawang coal-fired power station, and Origin Energy’s own 800MW plan to co-locate a battery storage project at its Eraring power station.

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