South Korea battery manufacturer Kokam has commissioned a 30MW/11MWh battery storage facility in Western Australia’s Pilbara, the large installation of its type in the country.
The battery is located next to the 180MW Newman gas-fired power station owned by Alinta, which supplies the Roy Hill iron ore mine that is majority owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.
The Kokam battery is configured quite differently from the Tesla big battery in South Australia, which is 100MW/129MWh, and deliberately so because its main role is to displace costly and polluting “spinning reserve”.
While the Tesla battery – known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – combines the ability of energy arbitrage (storing wind or other cheap energy for sale at peak times), or smoothing the output, as well as providing grid security services, the Kokam battery is focused on a different market, essentially providing inertia and frequency.
Its combination of high power, low energy, is designed to allow one of the gas generators at the Alinta facility to be switched off, because the Kokam battery will jump in to provide inertia, frequency, voltage and operating protections.
Kokam Australia boss Jon Pemberton told the Smart Energy Conference in Sydney on Tuesday that the battery installation had already been commissioned, and would be formally opened by Alinta this Friday.
Pemberton says that the combination of gas and batteries was potentially a “killer application” because of its ability to allow gas generators to be switched off rather than operating as “spinning reserve”.
Alinta CEO Jeff Dimery told RenewEconomy in 2016 when the project was being considered, that that the company needed to constantly run one of major gas generators as “spinning” reserve to back up the other gas generator in case of an unexpected outage.
That, Dimery said, is consuming gas and costing money, and he said the new battery storage system would pay for itself through gas displacement – in the same way that solar makes sense as diesel replacement – and because of its ability to respond quickly to outages.
(The Newman plant stores a million litres of diesel in case it runs out of gas).
This use of battery storage as gas-fuel displacement is an interesting development. The Northern Territory is conducting a similar tender to do the same in Darwin – for up to 45MW of capacity and just 30 minutes of storage.
Kokam, Tesla and many others have tendered into that project – and a smaller 5MW battery in Alice Springs is designed for a similar outcome.
Note: This story has been updated to note that storage capacity of battery is 11MWh, not 1MWh as originally published. The missing digit has been restored.