Second Tesla “big battery” to power Victorian farm

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US battery maker Tesla has again been selected to team up with French renewables developer Neoen on another ground-breaking Australian project; this time in Victoria, on the construction of a wind farm and battery storage facility that will help power a major Stawell farming business.

The wind and battery project, first flagged in mid-2017, will pair the 204MW *Bulgana wind farm in Victoria’s western district, with a 20MW/34MWh battery storage system to generate 750,000 MWh of electricity a year.

In an announcement released in the first week of January, Neoen confirmed that the first of its kind project would go ahead, with Tesla to supply the lithium-ion battery packs for the storage component, and with the backing of a 15-year “Support Agreement” with the Victorian government.

Artist’s impression of the Nectar Farms Stawell project: Nectar Farms

The project – which has been negotiated with the help of the Labor Andrews government, which has a legislated renewable energy target of 30 per cent by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025 – was largely devised to help unlock a planned $565 million expansion of local agribusiness, Nectar Farms.

Indeed, Nectar Farms’ plans to expand its 10 hectare state-of-the-art hydroponic glasshouse and plant technology to 40 hectares to supply vegetables to local and international markets hinged entirely on the ability to source renewable energy.

As we reported here, Nectar Farms had planned to use gas – as the hydroponic farms needs heat and CO2 – but the cost was overwhelming and the gas supply was not guaranteed. So instead of abandoning the project altogether, or moving it elsewhere, it turned to renewables and decided to completely electrify the process.

The deal will see 15 per cent of the energy generated by the Bulgana Green Power Hub (BGPH) dedicated to powering the expanded Nectar Farms hydroponics operations, with the remainder to be sent to the local grid, via a connection agreement with distribution company AusNet Services.

The details of the “Support Agreement” with the Victorian government have not been revealed – we have put in a request for more information – but as reported back in June 2017, the plan was to issue a contract for difference to buy the remaining output from the wind farm.

As we also stressed then, it is important to note that this 20MW/34MWh battery storage installation is not part of the Victoria tender for two 20MW battery storage arrays in western Victoria with a total of 100MWh of stored energy – the results of which we are still yet to hear.

Nonetheless, development of the Bulgana Hub is a big deal – the first renewable energy and agribusiness collaboration of its kind globally, according to Neoen, and that company’s largest single project within Australia.

It marks another big win for Tesla, whose “world’s biggest” grid-connected battery storage facility was switched on in South Australia last month, next to Neoen’s 315MW Hornsdale wind farm.

For Neoen, it is a good start to what promises to be another big year, with the company reportedly planning to commission an even bigger big battery system – potentially in partnership with Tesla – at the Neoen’s Kaban Green Power Hub, 80km southwest of Cairns in Queensland.

Neoen said the support it had received from the Victorian government – led by the government’s renewable energy advocate, Simon Corbell – was testament to its commitment to meet the VRET and emissions targets, and to assist regional economies.

Neoen says the BGPH will create up to 1,300 jobs during construction of two major infrastructure projects in Stawell, 270 ongoing jobs in the region, and will contribute significantly to the state’s food and fibre export targets.

“This project will demonstrate regional Australia’s capacity and capability to integrate renewables with cutting-edge horticultural technology on a broad scale,” the company said in a statement.

Franck Woitiez, Neoen’s managing director, said the project’s payback to the economy of Western Victoria and Stawell in particular was “unprecedented in scale.”

“(This) is a major step forward for communities, businesses and the renewable energy industry, and it concludes a year of great achievements for Neoen,” he said.

*This article has been adjusted to correct the spelling of Bulgana Green Power Hub.  

  • George AD

    Yet another big win from the Andrews Government. Good for business, good for regional Vic, and good for our environment.

    • Brunel

      Is it good for the poor?

      We really need the $900 cheques again due to growing inequality.

      • Robin_Harrison

        Eventually with cheaper energy but it’s going to take a lot more than that. This is just the energy transition, part of our overall transition to a sustainable future. Or not.

      • Jennifer

        Goo-g-le is paying 97$ per ho-u-r,with weekly p-a-youts.You can also avail th-i-s.O-n tuesday I got a brand new Land Rover Range Rover from havi-n-g earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-co-m-fortable job I have ever done .. It soun-d-s unbelievable but you wont f-o-rgive yourself if you don’t check it!de243f:➛➛➛ http://GoogleWageTalkCareerPartTimeJobs/get/hourly ♥♥d♥♥t♥g♥♥♥a♥♥v♥♥♥h♥♥k♥♥♥f♥l♥♥♥e♥o♥♥b♥♥w♥♥♥d♥♥a♥♥♥q♥♥♥r♥♥e♥♥t♥r♥r♥♥z♥♥t♥r♥♥a:::::!xx053j:lwei

      • Ren Stimpy

        Inequality’s arse! If you are dangling over a cliff and only a $900 will save you, you will grab it I assure you, as did our economy. Give the rhetoric a rest.

        • Brunel

          $0 is better than $900?

          • Ren Stimpy

            No it’s not when the intent is to quickly generate demand to save businesses and jobs.

            $0 as an economic stimulant is akin to economic death i.e. recession leading to depression.

          • Brunel

            Would you agree to a return of the carbon tax if each poor voter got a $500 cheque every quarter?

          • Ren Stimpy

            I don’t know, would have to see some numbers for the whole of population. Personally speaking yes I would because I know the carbon tax did benefit me greatly with the corresponding personal income tax cut. And it was a very effective way of reducing emissions.

          • Brunel

            There are only 8 million full-time jobs in AUS now.

            And 2 million underemployed.

            What good is an income tax cut if one does not have an income.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Added demand. Derr!

          • Brunel

            ie, who cares about the poor.

            But there is no carbon tax now – so I guess you prefer a $500/quarter cheque to the poorest voters after all.

            “Personally speaking yes I would”

          • Ren Stimpy

            What does demand do for the poor?

          • Brunel

            Nothing – because I have never owned a shop.

            Quite strange to be caring about starving polar bears while not giving a damn about homeless humans.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Stop living inside your head. Who first mentioned polar bears? Oh that’s right it was you!

            Get economically rational buddy or get going. Sorry but that’s non negotiable.

          • Brunel

            Why are you on a clean energy website then.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Firstly I think climate change is one of the biggest economic threats to the world (nothing to do with polar bears), and I think the clean energies will eventually be the cheapest forms because of their distributed model in terms of geography (lower network costs) and ownership (better competition).

          • Brunel

            I just remembered – PM Howard gave rebates for LPG tanks and kept winning elections.

            If Howard gave income tax cuts instead of rebates, the voters would have said “hello…how does income tax cuts to BMW owners help poor me?”.

            The Greens should have rebated electricity bills to the tune of $1000/year per voter. To hell with income tax cuts for the rich.

          • Ren Stimpy

            It would depend on how he gave those income tax cuts. Gillard did it best by increasing the tax-free threshold to $18k. Everybody who earned more than $6k benefited. In proportion to their earnings the low income earners benefited more from it than the rich. I don’t know the specific history but I assume the Greens were in full agreement with the income tax cut. Anybody who earned more than $18k could have used their new annual tax savings of $1800 to invest in clean energy to avoid the carbon tax, with plenty to spare. Every wage earner / home owner with a suitable roof could have used their $1800 income tax savings to invest in solar panels, to both avoid the carbon tax and bring about large savings in their electricity bills.

          • Hettie

            Not a lot. But increasing the incomes of the poorest increases demand for just about everything that is locally made. We spend on food and other necessities because we have to. Local businesses prosper and employ more staff.
            Extra money for the rich gets invested in properties that stay vacant, because, you know, tenants just trash the joint, and the capital gains are the main profit. Only 50%of the gain is taxed like income, and the interest on the loan is fully tax deductible.
            No extra production there.
            Or the money is spent on overseas holidays, leaving the local economy lamenting.
            The 2008 cash stimulus worked, because it was given not to the rich, but to the poor.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Took me about about three reads to interpret what you were actually trying to say, just a note for future reference Hettie.

          • Hettie

            Interesting. Did anyone else have trouble ?

          • Brunel

            I had no trouble understanding what you said.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Probably just me, I gotta stop commenting after beer ‘clock.

          • Hettie

            Surely that’s not the major consideration.
            When we had a carbon PRICE, carbon emissions were significantly reduced. The sky did not fall, and the carbon price was due to transition to an emissions trading scheme, far better than the bastard thing that Rudd was stopped (thank dog) from foisting on us.
            Then, the coalition, which seems hell bent on incinerating the planet as soon as possible .
            Let’s hope that s44 brings them undone, and soon.

          • Brunel

            There is no carbon price now – because while Alaska has UBI funded by a tax on oil, the Greens put a tax on coal but gave no UBI.

            The UBI in Alaska helps the poor the most – $3000 per year to the poorest voter in Alaska is a great help and not everyone has a full time job.

            Iran has UBI and the government there asks the rich to opt out of it. 2.5 million agreed to opt out. AUS need not go down that route – just exclude the minority who have an income over $70k.

          • Ren Stimpy

            There’s no doubt the $900 cheques helped bring the non-mining economy out of freefall, and the larger stimulus a few months later turned it around.


            btw I didn’t get a $900 cheque. My cheque was $200 due to the means-testing.

  • Brunel

    Will the 34MWh battery be installed where the load is and thereby reduce transmission losses?

    • Brian Tehan

      Transmission losses are not great in a densely populated state like Victoria. Except maybe for the connection between the Portland aluminium smelter and the Latrobe Valley. Stawell and Ararat are much closer to Portland so that might help reduce losses a little.

    • Random Internet Dude

      The wind farm and the greenhouse project are about 10km apart. Assuming the battery is located at the wind farm, transmission losses should be negligible.

  • Hettie

    Hi all. Happy new year. I’ve missed RE over the break. Should get out more.
    Great news from Vic. That bastard Dutton is so pathetic. What an obvious ploy to bring down the ALP Gov’t come November. Look over there! It’s a Sudanese youth gang. NOT.
    Nothing to do with the energy market, of course. I do hope he has an apoplexy when he hears about the new big battery.
    Cheers, all.

  • John Saint-Smith

    Abandoning gas as a source of heat, power and CO2 in the closed greenhouse environment speaks volumes for a purely commercial ‘technology agnostic’ decision for renewables! I do hope the Lazy Negative Party are actually paying attention instead of bellowing bs as usual.
    But it begs the question: where are Nectar Farms going to source their CO2? Has somebody nearby mastered the mystical art of cost effective CCS?

    • Steve Woots

      they’ll get the CO2 from the atmosphere, like every other farm has done since forever

      • John Saint-Smith

        Your comment merely demonstrates that ignorance is not confined to fossil fools. CO2 enhanced greenhouses have been operating in Europe for many decades, with the extra CO2 derived from ICE exhausts or gas heaters.

        • Carl Raymond S

          Earth, is a CO2 enhanced greenhouse. More so every day.

  • Robin_Harrison

    The pirates who’ve owned our energy and politicians have done us a favour. Their greed allowed renewables to reach price parity sooner and there’s no way to close the floodgates now.

    • Brunel

      But what about people who live in apartments? They can not put solar panels on the roof. The state Labor governments need to buy back the electricity grid in order to get transmission prices down.

      • Robin_Harrison

        You’re quite right but there are power retailers selling renewable energy exclusively. They’re already competitive and getting cheaper so there’s hope there.
        We most certainly have to find a path to a more equitable society but I would caution against dependance on the democracy myth; that one side or the other are not unprincipled, lying thieves.

  • Henry WA

    “The wind and battery project, first flagged in mid-2017, will pair the 204MW Bungala wind farm in Victoria’s western district, with a 20MW/34MWh battery storage system to generate 750,000 MWh of electricity a year.”
    These figures indicate a capacity factor of 42% for the windfarm (or possibly higher – I don’t know how you take the battery into account, as it may lower the base capacity factor, but increase its value). These are good figures for a land based wind farm.

    • JHM

      How about we use capacity net of battery? Instead of 204MW capacity we have 184MW = 204MW – 20MW net capacity. Basically we use the battery to trim off moment of peak production. This gets us to an adjusted capacity factor of 46.5%.

      Effectively, the battery extends the fraction of time the plant can deliver 184MW. However, to be precise about this we’d need to model whether the battery storage capacity in MWh is sufficient to maintain peak net generation of no more than 184MW.

      If you had a big enough battery in both MW and MWh, you could arrive at net capacity small enough to have a 100% adjusted capacity factor. For example, you could store all VRE production and meter it out at a constant rate to mimic perfect baseload. But you’d also have enormous flexibility to meter out to follow load or act as a peaker.

      I think we need new metrics to better characterise the value of VRE paired with battery storage. My suggestion of an adjusted capacity factor is but one possible metric.

  • Bonnie

    It’s Bulgana not Bungala……

    • mick


  • Andy Saunders

    Would have thought a slightly lower-tech approach such as used by Sundrop Farms, heliostats plus heat storage would have been more cost-effective/appropriate…

    • jmdesp

      Heliostats, heat storage, those are extremely expensive technologies, especially if they need 24 hours heat (the storage is usually limited to 5, 6 hours to reduce costs).
      And given the climate in Victoria it’s doubtful there’s enough solar for it.

  • john

    The NLP must be nashing their teeth over this announcement.
    We can give you lower prices from FF Generation that is reliable except when it is hot argument.
    Every nail in the coffin is happening every day every next day.
    Yet another good story it just gives one a smile.