Origin to build 650 MWh battery next to gas plant in Victoria

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Image: Fluence

Energy utility Origin Energy says it will spend $400 million on a new big 650 MWh big battery to be built at the site of its main gas generator in Victoria.

The board approval for the Mortlake Power Station battery, to be sized at 300 MW and 650 MWh, follows approval for the first stage of the Eraring big battery in NSW – at the site of its soon-tobe-shuttered coal fired power station – and a growing list of other battery projects.

Origin has chosen US-based energy storage systems supplier Fluence to build the project. Site preparation is expected to begin in a couple of months and the battery will be operating in late 2026.

“The Mortlake battery is another significant step in our ambition to lead the energy transition through cleaner energy and customer solutions,” CEO Frank Calabria said in a statement.

“Origin’s strategy is to accelerate renewable energy and storage in our portfolio and we expect large-scale batteries and other storage technologies to play a vital role in Australia’s energy transition.

“With the proliferation of wind and solar farms, particularly in Victoria’s South West Renewable Energy Zone, the Mortlake battery will help keep the grid stable and support more renewable energy coming into the system as the market continues to decarbonise.”

Origin has a goal of building up to 4GW of wind, solar and storage across its portfolio by 2030 – far less than the 14GW proposed by Brookfield before its bid was voted down by a handful of shareholders, including Australian Super.

Eraring is due to close in August next year, although the NSW government is holding talks with Origin about a possible extension, at least for some of its units, to reduce the risk of supply shortfalls and price spikes. Many energy analysts have questioned whether a closure delay is necessary, but state energy minister Penny Sharpe has written new laws that gives her the power to intervene.

Origin’s decision to build a big battery at the site of an existing gas fired power station follows a growing pattern in the Australian market, where big utilities are adding storage to their existing fossil fuel facilities, mostly to benefit from the energy infrastructure such as sub-stations and power lines.

EnergyAustralia last week announced its plans to build a big four-hour battery at the site of its Hallett gas fired generator in South Australia and also plans another battery next to its Jeeralang gas plant in Victoria.

AGL has built the Torrens Island gas generator at the site of its gas plant near Adelaide, and is planning others at the site of coal generators at Liddell and Loy Yang.

Origin has previously announced it would receive funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for the Mortlake battery, primarily because it will deploy grid-forming inverter technology which are seen as crucial to replicate the full suite of grid services offered by traditional generators.

The scale of that funding is yet to be announced. The battery will target the firming markets, as well as frequency control services, the new very fast frequency market, and provide grid inertia services.

Origin has also flagged big battery projects at Morgan in South Australia, next to a proposed solar farm, and at Darling Downs in Queensland, next to an existing gas fired power station.

Mortlake Power Station is the largest gas-fired power station in Victoria with a generation capacity of 566 MW. The peaking power station is powered by gas from the Otway Basin.

See also: RenewEconomy’s Big Battery Storage Map of Australia.

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