The first big battery to be connected to Western Australia’s main grid is one step closer to being realised this week, after the 100MW/200MWh facility was granted final development approval.
WA government-owned utility and the developer of the project, Synergy, said on LinkedIn on Friday that the Kwinana Big Battery had been given the green light for development at a decommissioned fossil fuel power station south of Perth.
The battery project was announced by the Labor McGowan government in October of 2020, in a bid to ease the pressure on the state’s ageing coal and gas generators as the share of renewable energy grows – particularly from customer-installed rooftop solar.
This week, Synergy described the big battery as a “major component” of its future asset mix and a demonstration of the gen-tailer’s commitment to the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable energy.
“Increasing levels of large-scale and rooftop intermittent renewable generation has led the rapid transformation of the energy sector, presenting a range of opportunities related to how electricity is produced, managed and consumed,” the LinkedIn statement said.
“The battery project will enable Synergy to optimise the use of its existing generation assets and provide network and system services to increase system security, providing a more sustainable, reliable and effective power supply to the wider region.”
The development approval means the Kwinana battery remains likely be the first of its kind to be connected to the state’s main grid, known as the South-West Interconnected System.
It will be closely followed by a 100MW (MWh not specified) battery energy storage system that was announced by Alinta in April, for construction at its Wagerup peaking gas and diesel plant.
The Alinta project has already gained approval from the WA Environment Protection Authority, as reported by the Perth-based energy, industry and climate website Boiling Cold.
Big batteries aside, Western Australia has been very progressive with energy storage technologies, including a 30MW/11MWh battery at the Pilbara Mt Newman power station that has proved enormously successful in helping to manage power supply to major iron ore mines.
Also in the Pilbara, Fortescue Metals Group in April commissioned Contract Power Australia to deliver the storage component of its $450 million solar and gas hybrid generation project, two battery energy storage systems totalling 42MW.
A new big battery at Rio Tinto’s Tom Price iron ore project will be the biggest to date, but will likely be trumped by a new battery storage project at Alinta’s gas fired generator in Port Hedland, likely to be 30MW/120MWh, and accompanied by a new 90MW solar farm.
The state’s main network companies, Western Power and Horizon, have also been installing many smaller batteries in local communities to smooth out rooftop solar output and to provide back-up power in remote and off grid locations.
“It’s important we support the rapid electricity transformation that’s happening right now and energy storage systems, like this big battery, have a crucial role to play in providing better energy and job outcomes for the WA community,” WA premier Mark McGowan said at the time of the Kwinana announcement.
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the Kwinana big battery would help address the so-called ‘duck curve’ by absorbing surplus energy in the middle of the day, when solar generation was high, and discharging energy during peak times.
“Battery storage is proving to be a versatile solution to network challenges; this big battery will complement Western Power’s roll-out of community batteries, which are providing additional support and improved power quality to local homes and businesses.”
Check out RenewEconomy’s Big battery storage map of Australia, here.