The head of one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers has expressed frustration at his company’s inability to obtain approval to add a big battery to one of its operating wind farms in South Australia.
Tilt Renewables – subject to an agreed $2.8 billion takeover offer from the Powering Australia Renewables Fund and Mercury NZ – has been looking for several years if it can add a battery to its Snowtown wind complex in South Australia, where it still owns the 101MW Snowtown 1 wind farm.
But CEO Deion Campbell says the company has effectively been told by the local transmission company ElectraNet that it will not be possible without significant modelling and an adjustment to the project’s generator performance standard (GPS).
He says that makes it virtually impossible, and the company will now focus instead on “stand-alone” battery storage developments in Victoria, where he has said previously it is looking at three projects totalling around 150MW of capacity and 300MWh of storage.
“I don’t get it,” Campbell said during a presentation of the company’s annual results on Thursday morning. “They won’t let the battery in.”
Campbell said he knew the process would be complex, but wanted the company to be a “trailblazer” to show how existing wind and solar farm assets could add battery storage and ave it operating “behind the meter”,
In South Australia, all new wind and solar projects must be accompanied by some form of battery, but it is difficult for those wanting to enhance existing projects.
The battery – which might have been sized at 20MW/42MWh, and designed primarily to shift wind output and increase the projects “firm” output – had received some financial support from the state government.
Campbell said it proved impossible because Snowtown was built in 2008, and would have had to have gone through an incredibly detailed modelling process that could have made its ongoing operation very difficult.
Tilt is not the first to observe that the complexity of adding battery storage assets to existing wind or solar farms. It is the reason why those batteries that have been added to an existing project – such as Hornsdale and Dalrymple (next to Wattle Point wind farm), or Gannawarra (solar) in Victoria – operate as different assets, and not integrated and behind the meter.
Some of the rules and regulations that made this difficult have been refined. But the complexity of having to re-submit expensive and highly complex GPS modelling if batteries are added makes it a challenging task for many developers, and particularly so for older wind farms which may not have done detailed modelling in the first place.
“We need to find way to get battery storage into legacy assets,” Campbell said. “We need leadership in this industry. There is quite a bit of frustration around the place at at the moment.”
Campbell has already expressed frustration at the delays encountered by Tilt’s biggest asset to date, the 336 Dundonnell wind farm, which was built on time but was then subject to severe delays and output restrictions due to “transmission issues” identified by AEMO.
That asset is now running near capacity, but won’t be fully operational until later this year.
RenewEconomy sought comment from ElectraNet but did not receive a reply before publication.