French renewable energy developer Neoen is planning a massive new big battery near Geelong – dubbed the “Victoria big battery” – that will be up to four times the size of the original “Tesla big battery” at Hornsdale in South Australia.
Plans for the $300 million battery, proposed to be sized at around 600MW, have been unveiled by the City of Geelong and form part of the group’s response to an urgent call by the Victoria state government to “go it alone” and fast track a much needed upgrade of its main transmission link to Victoria.
Neoen, which paid for and now operates the successful and highly profitable 100MW/129MWh Tesla big battery (officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve) in South Australia, and which is being expanded by around 50 per cent, is teaming up with Mondo Power to build this new battery, which would be located at the Moorabool terminal station, 13kms north west of the Geelong CBD
Both Mondo Power and the Moorabool terminal are owned by network company Ausnet.
It is one of nearly 20 different proposals put forward to the Australian Energy Market Operator when it called for expressions of interest for projects that could facilitate an upgrade of the transmission link’s capacity by around 250MW. A formal tender is expected to be issued later this month.
Neoen and Mondo say in their application that the proposed Victoria big battery will provide Fast Frequency Response services to the National Electricity Market, be a reserve to augment power supplies in Victoria, and provide improved grid reliability.
“Such energy storage facilities can reduce spot price volatility and protect the grid from network disturbances thus improving reliability and potentially reducing power costs for Victorians.”
The planning documents say that the battery could be sized up to 600MW, although it does not give a time value for that storage. That presumably will be dictated by a final decision on what services will be provided.
(Lengthy storage might not be needed for a “network” upgrade or fast frequency response, unlike a battery designed primarily to store excess wind or solar power. But this battery may also provide multiple services, as the Hornsdale battery does).
It is one of a number of big battery proposals made across Australia. AGL has signed up for 200MW/400MWh of big batteries in NSW, and recently also contracted for a 100MW/150MWh big battery in Queensland, adjacent to a proposed 1,000MW solar project, while Origin Energy has also cited potential big battery projects and nearly every new large scale wind and solar project is considered “battery-ready”.
Already, five large scale batteries are operating on Australia’s main grid – at Hornsdale, Lake Bonney and Dalrymple North in South Australia and at Ballarat and Gannawarra in Victoria, while many others are operating off-grid or in smaller and private grids, with the Northern Territory government this week proposing a $30 million big battery for the Darwin-Katherine grid.
Neoen and Mondo say that such energy storage facilities encourage the development and construction of renewable energy projects by being able to switch between being a load or generator depending on renewable energy output and energy demand in the network.
“BESS (battery energy storage systems) projects also protect against price volatility, protect the grid from network disturbances and reduce the price of Frequency Control and Ancillary Services (FCAS),” they note, citing the significant cost savings from the Tesla big battery in South Australia, which saved consumers $50 million in it first year and more than $100 million in its second year.
That battery has also played a significant role in avoiding blackouts, particularly in instances when major transmission line faults have caused the state to be effectively “islanded” for short periods of time, and for more than two weeks earlier this year.
“Overall, storage when combined with renewable energy, will help maintain Australia’s energysupply, especially in times of peak demand. It may also reduce the frequency of blackouts and need for load shedding in instances where there is a supply imbalance,” the application says.
It notes the importance of Victoria’s “go it alone” strategy, legislated through proposed amendments to the National Electricity (Victoria) Act 2005, that seek to unlock renewable projects and fast- track priority projects including transmission upgrades and grid-scale batteries to urgently improve the reliability and capacity of Victoria’s energy supply.
The planning documents reveal that the Victoria big battery is likely to be built in two stages, and appears to have been planned since at least late last year.
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