AGL to add 200MW big battery with four hours storage at Loy Yang coal plant

AGL Energy has flagged plans to build a 200MW big battery – with fours storage – at the site of its Loy Yang A brown coal generator in Victoria as it continues to roll out its storage strategy across the country.

The news of the Victoria battery means that AGL will have big batteries in all four mainland states of the National Electricity Market. Last week it announced a 250MW battery with up to four hours storage at the site of the Torrens Island gas generator in South Australia, it has already contracted for 200MW and 400MWh of battery storage in NSW, and a 100MW and 150MWh big battery at Wandoan in Queensland.

It is also looking at a 50MW battery at Broken Hill and may also build a big battery of up to 500MW at the site of the Liddell coal generator in the Hunter Valley which is due to close in 2023, although it is now re-considering this investment in the light of the NSW renewable energy plan.

But the decision to build a big battery at Loy Yang A is significant. It will be the first to be built at the site of an operating brown coal generator in Australia, and will likely be designed to take some of the pressure of the ageing equipment, and remove the need for the plant to make quick changes in output in response to changes in wind and solar.

It is also significant because, like the big battery proposed for Torrens Island, it will have four hours of storage, suggesting it will be used also to help meet peak demand, and further the incursions of battery technology into a space once dominated by peaking gas generators.

AGL CEO and Managing Director, Brett Redman said AGL is leading the energy transition by developing a network of batteries, modernising Australia’s energy supply.

“We’re proud to bring this technology to the Latrobe Valley, a community that both play such a pivotal role inAustralia’s energy generation,” AGL CEO Brett Redman said in a statement.

“The limiting factor for renewable technology has always been storage and we are taking control of theselimitations by turning our attention to batteries.

Battery storage is expected to play a more significant role as the national electricity market moves towards 5-minute settlements, favouring fast-responding technologies, and as more of its “value-stack” are recognised by the market.

Like the Torrens Island facility, the Loy Yang A battery will be developed in stages, initially with only an hour or two of storage and then with the full anticipated capacity, although this could change as the market develops.

An artist’s impression of the Loy Yang big battery. Where’s the coal fired power station?

It won’t be the biggest in Victoria, as that title will likely be taken by the Victorian big battery to be developed by Neoen, the owners of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which at 150MW/194MWh remains the biggest battery in the country, at least for the moment.

Neoen’s Victoria big battery at Geelong will be sized at 300MW and 450MWh, most of it designed to increase the capacity of the main transmission link to NSW, a role that only requires half an hour of storage. That contract is for a 200MW/125MWh component of that battery.

The 200MW Loy Yang A battery will initially be smaller, but could overtake in storage capacity once the full four hour storage capacity is installed and its total capability increases to 800MWh, or the Torrens Island facility is expanded to 1,000MWh.

Neoen may then recapture the title of the country’s biggest battery as it develops its plans for the Goyder South project in South Australia, where it has talked of a big battery rated at 900MW and 1800MWh.

There are already two operating big batteries in Victoria, one at Gannawarra solar farm (25MW/50MWh), and another at Ballarat (30MW/30MWh). Both are operated by EnergyAustralia. Another (20MW/34MWh) is being commissioned by Neoen next to the Bulgana wind farm in the north west of the state.

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