The Australian Renewable Energy Agency said on Thursday is to provide funding of $445,000 to help leading utility AGL Energy develop a business case for grid-connected energy storage for its wind farms – and presumably others – in South Australia.
The study will focus on whether it is feasible to store excess electricity generated by wind farms overnight for use in the daytime. Wholesale prices often go negative overnight in South Australia , which has more than half the wind energy capacity in the country and now sources around 40 per cent of its demand from variable wind and solar energy. On some days, wind energy and solar have supplied more than 100 per cent of the state’s demand.
“Commercial scale storage is especially important for enabling higher penetrations of renewables where less base load energy is provided by fossil fuels,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement. (South Australia only has two coal fired generators, one of which has been mothballed and the other now used only seasonally).
“The larger storage devices being explored may allow AGL to get more value from its renewable generators by delivering energy at times when demand is high,” Frischknecht said. “In particular, the project will look into feeding the large amount of energy produced overnight by AGL’s South Australian wind farms back into the grid during the day.
WorleyParsons and local grid operator ElectraNet are partnering with AGL on the $1 million project. Electranet will address how storage would interact with the electricity networks rules and regulations. Worley Parsons are leading technology selection, along with developing technical specifications, timeline and costs estimates.
Frischknecht said the project would set out a clear pathway for establishing commercial scale, grid integrated electricity storage in Australia.
“It will refine and select the best storage technology for the market and outline costs and benefits involved,” Frischknecht said.
Other utilities have also introduced battery storage at grid level, such as Ergon Energy, which will help balance out the impact of renewables, although in the case of Queensland that is about solar energy. (Queensland has virtually no wind energy).
Storage for wind turbines has been trialled in New South Wales at the Hampton wind farm, using the Ultrabattery developed by Australia’s Ecoult, and GE has also produced new turbines which can store excess production.