Victoria Big Battery sets Australian output record as it ramps up testing

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The Victoria Big Battery near Geelong can now properly lay claim to being the biggest battery in Australia, after setting a new benchmark for charging and discharging on Monday as it continues to ramp up production following its fire-related dramas.

The VBB – which has a capacity of 300MW, 450MWh – began its commissioning process back in late July, but that exercise was quickly brought to a halt by a fire that broke out in one of its Tesla Megapack units, which then spread to another unit.

All generators, including batteries, have to go through a series of “hold point” testing to assure the Australian Energy Market Operator that they are capable of doing what they are supposed to do, and won’t have any unforeseen impacts on the grid.

On Monday, in “hold point 2” testing, the VBB set a new new capacity record for big batteries in Australia, charging at 150MW before quickly discharging at 125MW (see graph below courtesy of Paul McArdle from Watt Clarity).

That beats the previous benchmark of +150MW/-120MW set by the 150MW/194MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, also owned by Neoen, and which is now officially only the second biggest battery in the country.

Source: NEMReview. Please click to expand

The new benchmark will, of course, be bettered as the VBB continues to ramp up to its full capacity in coming weeks, and it suggests the facility is seemingly on track to delivered its promised services by the start of summer.

According to McArdle, a change in pricing structure was visible from October 1 with the introduction of five minute settlements, and on October 7 the battery was offered “available” at its full capacity to the market, presumably as part of the testing.

The VBB landed a lucrative 10-year contract with the Australian Energy Market Operator to deliver a new type of grid service that will effectively increase the capacity of the main transmission link between Victoria and NSW at crucial peak demand times over summer.

That contract will account for 250MW and 125MWh of its capacity for those periods. The battery will otherwise play in the FCAS and arbitrage markets.

Other new batteries are also joining the grid, including the 100MW/150MWh Wandoan battery in Queensland, and soon the 50MW/75MWh Wallgrove big battery in western Sydney. Both are the first big batteries to be installed in their respective states.

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