Australia’s largest battery storage project could be built just outside of Sydney, with planning documents revealing the plans of renewable energy developer Neoen kick-starting the planning process for a 500MW/1,000MWh big battery in New South Wales.
Neoen submitted a scoping study for the project with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment shortly before Christmas, and is the first step in the planning process for what the company has dubbed the “Great Western Battery”.
In the study prepared with the support of consultancy AECOM, Neoen says that the project would form a major part of an evolving New South Wales energy grid, with the energy storage project capable of supporting the NSW state government’s plans to drive new investment into as much as 12GW of new wind and solar generation capacity by the end of the decade.
According to the study, Neoen the proposed big battery energy storage system (BESS) as supporting the development of the Central-Orana renewable energy zone, the first such zone that the NSW government is aiming to develop, and which could see as much as 3,000MW of new wind and solar projects built in the region around the town of Dubbo.
The big battery project located be built around 100km west of Sydney, near the site of the former Wallerawang coal-fired power station.
“The project seeks to provide a critical element of the expanding renewable energy industry and the future capacity and resilience of the NSW energy network through providing a large-scale energy storage system,” Neoen’s scoping study says.
“Neoen believe that the provision of the physical infrastructure to store electricity is a critical first step to supporting the investment in and development of renewable energy solutions for NSW.”
Neoen adds that it the construction of such a large battery storage facility in NSW would provide additional energy system support services, such as frequency control, as well as providing dispatchable supplies of power to complement the supply from variable wind and solar projects.
“The large-scale BESS that would be delivered by the project would operate unlike any other device currently connected to the NSW network, and would provide a range of services with extremely fast response times to support a stable network and security of supply. The energy storage capacity provided by the project would allow for increased installation of renewable energy sources while maintaining network stability and security,” Neoen’s report says.
According to the scoping study lodged by Neoen, the ‘Great Western Battery’ would re-purpose existing network infrastructure previously constructed for the now decommissioned Wallerawang coal-fired power station.
The 1,000MW Wallerawang coal power station was closed by EnergyAustralia in 2014, and Neoen’s proposed big battery would be able to connect to a 330kV substation that that had previously served the power station.
Neoen expects the project to involve an investment of between $300 and $400 million and would create up to 200 new construction jobs, with final figures to be determined as the planning process progresses. An indicative timeline suggests that construction of the battery could begin in 2022 with operation commencing by 2023.
“The project has two principal aims: providing a world-leading storage facility to improve the resilience and sustainability of the New South Wales electricity grid, and to allow for the accelerated development of renewable energy in NSW,” the study adds.
“The large-scale BESS to would reduce the possibility of load-shedding and blackout events in the State, especially considering the multiple existing coal fired power plants that are planned to retire in the next decade.”
Neoen previously developed Australia’s first major big battery project, working with Tesla to complete the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which was recently expanded to provide 150MW/194MWh of energy storage, mostly dedicated to energy reliability services.
The company has also recently won contracts to build additional big battery systems in Victoria and the ACT. The Victorian big battery plan would see a 300MW/450MWh system in Geelong, and will also utilise Tesla’s Megapack big batteries.
The French energy giant already operates a significant portfolio of wind and solar projects across Australia, and is currently undertaking the construction of the 194MW Bulgana wind farm and recently locked in finance for the construction of the 460MW Western Downs Green Power Hub, which is set to sell power to the Queensland government-owned CleanCo.