RES, one of the world’s biggest developers of battery storage plants, is to team up with engineering firm Lloyds Register to look at a 100MW lithium-ion battery storage plant in South Australia – to show that is a cheaper and more secure option than new transmission lines or gas plants.
The $100 million project could be built next year, in a fraction of the time it would take to build a vastly more costly, multi-billion dollar transmission line linking the renewable energy leading state with NSW or Victoria.
The announcement comes at the same time as RES and Lloyds reveal the result of modelling that shows inverter-connected solar and storage plants would likely have kept the South Australian grid stable, even with the tumultuous damage caused by the storm on September 28 that led to a state-wide blackout.
The modelling suggests that “wobbling” output of the gas generators might have been the principal cause of the instability in the grid that led to the separation from Victoria.
The ageing, slow reacting gas plants constantly overshot as they struggled to manage the system faults caused by the collapse of three major transmission lines, causing the grid to become unstable.
“(Grid) operators are faced with a huge challenge to protect energy generation supply and demand in extreme weather conditions,” said Jeremy Moon, the head of technical at RES in Australia.
“We understand this requires investment long-term and the adoption of new technology and solutions that enable sustainable energy provision now and in the future.”
RES has already installed 145MW of lithium-ion storage across the world, accounting for a significant share of the market in the UK and in the US, where battery storage is used to provide network services and help stabilise the grid. Lloyds role in the project is an advisory one, not as an investor.
Moon says demand for energy storage is expected to increase after the South Australia blackout, and as a result of the search for newer and flexible systems such as battery storage to ensure system security.
Most of the emphasis in the public arena has been on limiting wind and solar, building more gas plants, and investing billions in new interconnectors.
Moon, and Andrew Jones, from Lloyds, say this is not necessary. “South Australia is incredible resource rich for power,” Moon says, noting the ample wind and solar resources.
“We keep reading about power price surges and not having enough power, but it does not compute. Having a storage type solution allows you to fully utilise those assets, and get a much better outcome at a fraction of the cost, and it doesn’t lock us into a 40 year asset that consumers will have to pay for.”
Jones agrees that technology solutions in energy storage can be leveraged to help operators use more cost-effective and locally produced energy.
RES has more than 12GW of installed renewable energy capacity across the globe, including the 107MW Taralga wind farm and is currently building the 242MW Ararat wind farm. It has operated in Australia for 12 years and is also developing the Twin Creek wind project in South Australia.
Lloyd’s Register is a global engineering, technical and business services organisation wholly owned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to research and education in science and engineering.