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Australia’s biggest battery registered, but battery storage supply crunch looms

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Australia’s biggest battery – the 300MW/450MWh Victoria Big Battery near Geelong – has been registered and is about to begin production, but a supply shortfall is looming for future battery storage projects in Australia and around the world.

The Victoria big battery will be about double the size of its stablemate, the original Tesla big battery at Hornsdale, which was once the biggest in the world and was recently expanded to 150MW/194MWh.

Both batteries are owned by French-based renewable and battery storage developer Neoen and both are ground-breaking in their own way because they changed, and will change, the thinking about how the grid is managed thanks to their speed and flexibility.

Hornsdale broke open the gas cartel’s hold on the key network services market, and is now acting as a “virtual synchronous machine”, and the Victoria battery by delivering “virtual transmission” by allowing the amount of capacity on the main link between NSW and Victoria to be significantly increased.

The Victoria big battery on Tuesday was issued with two DUIDs (dispatchable unit identifiers) – VBBG1 and VBBL1 – by the Australian Energy Market Operator to reflect its dual roles of charging (load), and discharging (generation) in its activities.

It is understood that activities will commence as early as Wednesday, where it will be allowed to operate up to its first “hold point” of around 30MW.

Neoen only recently celebrated the “half way” mark of installations at the Geelong site, and much of the battery remains to the installed.

But the speed with which it has obtained registration contrasts sharply with the huge delays, sometimes more than a year, suffered by large scale wind and solar projects in Australia, including the country’s biggest wind project to date, the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm near Ballarat.

The Victoria big battery is using Tesla Megapack battery modules, sized at 3MWh each, as is the first big battery in NSW, the 50MW/75MWh Wallgrove big battery in western Sydney being built by Transgrid.

Together they form a major part of the record deliveries for Tesla in Q2, when it tripled its stationary battery storage deliveries to more than 1,240MWh, as the overall company delivered its first billion-dollar quarterly profit.

However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned that its flagship Megapack module has already been sold out to the end of 2022, and battery supplies were being hindered by the shortage of both battery cells and semi-conductor chips.

“We have a significant un-met demand in stationary storage,” Musk told the Tesla Q2 investor call on Tuesday morning (Australia time). “Megapack is basically sold out through the end of next year.”

Musk said there is also a massive backlog in the smaller Powerwall battery storage product used in homes and businesses, again caused by supply issues.

“Powerwall demand versus production is an insane mismatch,” Musk said. “Part of that is due to the semi-conductor issue. We use the same chips, so it is like ‘which one do you want to make – a car or a Powerwall’? We need to make cars, so Powerwall production has been reduced.”

Musk says if the supply blockages are eased, production of Powerwalls could reach one million a year, or 20,000 a week, but demand was even more than that.

And he said “vast amounts” of Megapacks will be needed by utilities as the world transitions to sustainable energy productions, and particularly wind and solar.

Tesla and other suppliers needed to produce around 1,000GWh of battery storage a year, maybe 2,000GWh a year. In the last 12 months, Tesla produced just 4GWh of stationary battery storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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