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Infigen looks to add big battery to Lake Bonney wind farm

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Photo: Dave Clarke

Infigen Energy has joined the rush from renewable energy developers to add storage to existing and proposed wind and solar projects.

Infigen is planning a 25MW/52MWh battery storage facility at its Lake Bonney wind farm, citing the success of the new Tesla big battery, and the ability of storage to make its wind farms more competitive, particularly as it bids for contracts with business customers.

In a development application to the South Australia Planning Commission, Infigen proposes to build and operate the facility next to the Mayurra substation, on the same site as four of the Lake Bonney wind turbines, near Mt Gambier in the south-east of the state.

Lake Bonney is a 278MW facility that was built in three stages between 2005 and 2010, and Infigen says that adding storage would boost the competitiveness of the wind farm, and help stabilise the grid.

Infigen cited the success of the Tesla big battery (100MW/129MWh) that began operations at the Hornsdale Power Reserve last December, and which has impressed all, including the market operator, with its superior speed and accuracy of response.

“The proposed facility will provide increased infrastructure and security to the national grid and reduce the risk of widespread blackout events,” Infigen says.

“As already demonstrated by the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the almost instantaneous response time of the BESS  (battery energy storage system) allows for increased grid security during periods of generator or load trips.

“The BESS can act as either a generator or load to help stabilise the grid and prevent a domino effect of system trips accumulating in a widespread blackout.”

Infigen said storage would also increase the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies in the National Electricity Market, by allowing them to reduce their exposure to the increasing FCAS market costs.

It would also enable them to load-shift the generator output to better suit the supply and demand at a given time. “This will allow for the intermittent nature of renewable technology generation to be better managed and allow for a more stable national grid.”

It said it would also likely accelerate the deployment of storage across the country, given the learnings from such installations and associated cost reductions.

Apart from Infigen, Electranet is installing a 30MW/8MWh battery at the Wattle Point wind farm on the Yorke Peninsula, and Nexif Energy is to add 10MW of battery storage to the new Lincoln Gap wind farm in Port Augusta, and the battery size could be tripled.

Tilt Renewables is also building a 21MW/26MWh battery storage facility along with a 44MW solar PV plant next to the Snowtown wind farm, and there are at least three major battery storage projects about to begin construction in Victoria.

Numerous other projects are considering storage, there are also at least five different proposals for pumped hydro storage in South Australia, as well as the 150MW Port Augusta solar tower with eight hours of molten salt storage.

Infigen also said the addition of a battery storage facility would make it more competitive in the commercial and industrial market, because it would be able to “firm”its own supply, and manage C&I contracts with lowered risk and cost.

Infigen said the battery technology was not yet chosen, but noted it could be Tesla Powerpack 2 technology (as used by the Hornsdale Power Reserve) or some other technology.

But it did use a Tesla Powerpack 2 system architecture to illustrate how the battery system would be set up, and several images of the Tesla Powerpacks.

 The company says the battery storage facility will require 300 battery units, according to Infigen Energy, 48 inverters, eight medium-voltage transformers, and an extension of the Mayurra substation.

It noted that at the end facility’s life, the batteries would be decommissioned and removed from the site.

“Equipment suppliers typically recycle much of the returned battery packs and modules (usually more than 60 per cent of the materials are recovered for reuse).

“In this closed loop process, damaged or end of life battery packs are disassembled, their constituent materials will be isolated, and those materials will be reprocessed for use in manufacturing the next generation of batteries.

“Critical materials such as nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminium, and steel are recovered from these waste streams and reprocessed for further use.”

  

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  • Jon

    It’s interesting that commercial RE generators are seeing storage as a viable proposition without any subsidy.
    As more get into the system the FCAS market will plummet and price spikes will start to disappear, especially when we eventually operate with a 5 minute rule.

    • Kevfromspace

      What makes you think they won’t apply for an ARENA grant for this project? Personally I’m yet to see a commercial battery storage project get off the ground without some sort of subsidy.

  • Peter F

    Adding batteries to a windfarm that has a relatively low capacity factor and generates most of its power when supply is at its peak makes sense. If it sells 6,000 MWh per year at an $90, and 6000 at $105 vs dumping them into the market at $40 or less that is $7-800,000 return which is probably just about breakeven. If there is any risk of curtailment and even a little ancillary service revenue then there is profit to be made.
    There is also a real prospect that once there are a variety of batteries on the grid in SA the 3 turbine rule will be relaxed creating more revenue for wind farms

    • Rod

      I must admit, I am surprised AEMO hasn’t further relaxed the spinning gas requirements post election.
      As you say, a few more fast responding batteries in the mix SHOULD mean they can relax that rule. I’m sure we are curtailing wind today.

      • Peter F

        I think the last thing they want is to go too close to the bleeding edge again. When some of these batteries are actually up and running then they can be a bit more adventurous

  • Nancy Fancy

    “Critical materials such as nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminium, and steel are recovered from these waste streams and reprocessed for further use.”

    By whom? how? where?

    • Francesco Nicoletti

      Well given that my curb side council pickup has all the metals picked up by free lance recyclers long before the council can get to them, I would say any high value materials in bulk in one or two decades, like cobalt and copper will be snapped up

      • Nancy Fancy

        There will be value only if the amalgam can be separated economically in sufficient purity to allow re-use. Currently it’s cheaper and less environmentally harmful to refine those elements from ore.