The company behind plans to build 2GW of big battery capacity around Australia, including a 1,200MW project in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, has kicked off works on a major commercial project, with the establishment of an embedded solar and storage network at a major NSW shopping centre.
CEP.Energy, a company chaired by former NSW Labor premier Morris Iemma, said on Monday that it had signed up Victoria-based outfit RACV Solar as the EPC partner on a project that will install 2.62MW of solar and 4MW/10MWh of battery storage at the Narellan Town Centre in south-west Sydney.
The system, which will use a CATL li-ion battery, is being built as the first phase of a project that ultimately aims to have 20MWh of battery storage capacity, that will offer market services to support the grid as well as helping to deliver cheaper solar power to the building’s owners and tenants.
For CEP.Energy, the appointment of RACV Solar and commencement of stage one works on the Narellan project is welcomed progress from a company that has talked a big game, but has so far not delivered anything much beyond grand visions.
In March, CEP.Energy announced a new grid-scale battery for South Australia, to be built on the site of the former Holden car manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Adelaide, that would have a capacity of 150MW, with a storage duration as yet unspecified.
And in February, the company announced that it would build the “world’s biggest battery” – 1,200MW – at the industrial centre of Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, where the Morrison government has been advancing its own plans to build a new gas-fired generator.
The Narellan project, which takes in one of Australia’s largest privately-owned shopping centres, is more in line with CEP.Energy’s separate and equally ambitious plans to build and operate up to 1.5GW of commercial and industrial rooftop solar and storage systems.
For RACV Solar, which has been expanding into other states since its acquisition of leading Victorian installer Gippsland Solar in late 2019, the Narellan job is the company’s largest single solar and storage project yet and ushers it into a new league of development.
“This is a game changer for us, in terms of investment, new recruitment, and our expansion into NSW,” said RACV Solar CEO Andy McCarthy in comments to RenewEconomy on Monday, who noted that the Narellan project was one of “a number” it was working on with CEP.Energy.
“We’ve already got half a dozen staff dedicated to this project and …we look forward to bringing a whole bunch of semi- and highly-skilled workers [for roles including] software development and engineering.”
McCarthy said the Narellan Town Centre was in a critical growth corridor of Sydney and the solar and battery network that was being installed would have benefits for landlords and tenants, as well as for the broader network – with the battery system set to participate in the “entire value stack” of grid services.
He said CEP.Energy would lease the rooftop from the shopping centre’s owners, and manage the sale of solar energy to its tenants, while RACV Solar would design, build and maintain the solar and battery system for a 15-year period.
“We are excited about the start of the relationship with CEP.Energy and the many opportunities it presents,” McCarthy said.
CEP.Energy CEO Peter Wright said his company was “thrilled” to be working with RACV Solar, as a celebrated and trusted Australian brand.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership for the many more solar and storage projects we will deliver across Australia over the next 12 -18 months as we build a large-scale renewable energy footprint,” Wright said.