Spanish renewable energy giant Gransolar is developing 13 large-scale batteries across South Australia, Victorian and NSW with a collective capacity of 300 megawatts and one to two hours of storage each.
Developed with its battery division, E22, batteries will have, on average around two hours storage, and be sized at around 20MW/40MWh, though the final dimensions of each will vary, The first are expected to be completed at the end of 2021, with the rest coming online in the first half of 2022.
Gransolar has secured the land for the batteries, and is in the process of going through various regulatory approvals. Most of the batteries will be in South Australia and Victoria, with a minority in NSW.
Carlos Lopez, Gransolar’s managing director for Australia, said high wind and solar penetration in SA and high levels of grid congestion in Victoria meant the two states were the obvious locations for the batteries.
He said the NSW was less attractive simply because there was more competition from other battery developers. He did not go into precise details of where the batteries will be located.
He said Gransolar was “more than open to expand our developments to different states”.
“I believe we will be one of the leaders in the space. That’s the aim – to have a significant portfolio that we can build,” he said. “The same as we have done in the utility scale solar farm, where we are in the top five EPC contractors in Australia, the idea is to have significant place in the battery storage ranking.”
Through E22, Gransolar has already announced one battery project in Australia – a 5MW to 7.5MW project (with two hours storage) in Longwarry in Victoria, with Victoria’s transmission operator Ausnet.
The company also has two new solar farms in the pipeline, with one 100MW farm in NSW already signed off and set to be announced next week, and another in Queensland that is still in the negotiation phase.
They will add to its five existing or in-development utility-scale solar farms, which have collective capacity of 550MW. The most recent was the 200MW Blue Grass solar farm in Queensland, which it won the contract to build in December.
Others include the 39MW Molong Solar Farm in NSW, the 100MW Lilyvale Solar Far in Queensland, and the 69MW Goonumbla Solar Farm in NSW. Globally, Gransolar has completed 107 solar farms in 17 countries, with a total capacity of 2,400MW. In the earlier phases most farms were well below 100MW of capacity, but increasingly they are shooting well past that mark, particular those in Australia and South Africa.
Lopez says expansion into large-scale battery storage is a logical move for a solar company. “There is not much difference in developing a battery project and a utility-scale solar farm. Of course it has its technology challenges because it’s a different technology. But this is part of our core business.”
He says Gransolar is developing the 13 projects alone for now, but was in talks with external investors that were interested in taking a stake in them. He said Gransolar’s plans had “generated a lot of interest in the market” from potential investors.
Lopez says Gransolar is also investigating the potential to become a green hydrogen manufacturer.
“We believe in the future the combination of solar plus hydrogen will make a lot of sense. It’s feasible, in particular here in Australia. It’s still in the very early stages to be honest with you.. We believe it is going to be more mid to long-term, but we are getting ready,” he said.
“We don’t have any projects yet, however we have been asked by developers about the potentiality of hydrogen overseas and here.”
He said the idea was potentially to build off-grid solar farms dedicated to the production of green hydrogen.
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.