GE to supply world’s biggest battery for South Australia Solar River project

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GE Renewable Energy named as supplier of big battery for the 200MW Solar River Project in South Australia.

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The supplier of what has been touted as “one of the largest” grid-connected batteries in the world, to be installed alongside the 200MW Solar River Project in South Australia, has been revealed as GE Renewable Energy.

In an announcement on Thursday, GE said it had been selected to supply and integrate a 100MW/300MWh big battery for the 200MW solar PV plant.

By our calculations, if built now, it would be the biggest lithium ion battery in the world, besting the Tesla big battery at nearby Hornsdale which stands at 100MW/129MWh. However, other big batteries may beat it to the title before it is completed as several are under construction in the US.

Construction of the Solar River Project is due to get underway by Christmas this year, after its developers snared a power purchase agreement with major utility, Alinta Energy.

That deal, announced in July, locked in finance for the $480 million project, which is being developed by Jason May and Richard Winter near Robertstown, in South Australia’s mid-north, the starting point for the proposed new inter-connector to NSW.

The company has not disclosed the financial details of the 15-year PPA, but told RenewEconomy at the time that the deal with Hong Kong-owned Alinta was for 75 per cent of the solar farm’s output, making Solar River “very bankable.”

At that time, the supplier of the battery system remained a mystery, but May, who is the Solar River Project CEO, suggested the decision had already been made.

“This is the first purpose-built PV battery system in the world,” he told RE. “It’s never been deployed before, but because of who (the company supplying the battery) are, it can be banked.”

In comments this week, May said locking in GE as the supplier of the big battery system marked another major milestone for the project.

“General Electric is a world leader in renewable energy storage technology… (and) brings a cutting-edge technology to South Australia, by delivering huge energy transfer capacity with an intelligent operating system,” May said.

May says the battery energy storage system will allow the solar plant to deliver firm generation and assist in smoothing peaks, helping to balance out “one of the peakiest loads in the world” on South Australia’s gird.

He said on Thursday that the storage system was designed to increase the availability of the plant and enable optimal use of the solar generation.

Prakash Chandra, the chief of renewable hybrids at GE Renewable Energy described the Solar River Project as a flagship for the renewables industry and for GE’s role in building hybrid plants.

“Hybrid solutions have become a reality, driven by the demand for reliable and dispatchable renewable energy, which we can integrate using our proprietary controls technology to optimize asset and customer outcomes,” he said.

“We are proud to have been selected by the Solar River Project to deliver this very important project that will benefit a large community in this part of the world.”

Stage one of the project is intended to see the first electricity generated in early 2021, the company says.

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