Victoria seeks to build country's biggest grid-scale battery storage | RenewEconomy

Victoria seeks to build country’s biggest grid-scale battery storage

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Victoria’s Labor government calling for expressions of interest to build 20MW battery storage array, to improve grid stability.

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The Victoria Labor government has announced that it is calling for expressions of interest to build a 20MW battery storage array, in what would likely be Australia’s first grid scale battery storage facility.

The government says the 20MW battery storage facility is being earmarked for western Victoria, where the Australian Energy Market Operator has identified opportunities to improve grid stability, and where many of the state’s wind farms and proposed solar farms are located.orgeon battery


Indeed, the western grid of Victoria has suffered several major faults in the past 15 months, resulting in load shedding, or rolling blackouts in the neighbouring state of South Australia and at the Alcoa aluminium refinery, that were blamed on renewable energy rather than the grid.

The government, which plans to lift the state’s share of renewable energy to 25 per cent by 2020, and to 40 per cent by 2025, says that storage will play a vital role in better integrating renewable energy generation, keeping the lights on and keeping power prices in check.

“We are in the midst of a major global transformation and we’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the next generation of energy technologies that will support a resilient energy system,” state energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said in a statement.

“The 20MW battery will be the first of its kind for Australia, it will help to modernise Victoria’s electricity grid, enhance energy security and deliver affordable energy.

“We’re taking the action required to ensure reliable and affordable energy supply for Victorians while we deliver on our renewable energy target.”

Numerous other battery storage installations have been announced or considered, although none at this scale. Several utilities are trialling storage in multiple homes and businesses, and also in smaller 1MW installations at grid level.

South Australia has been mulling a significant grid level storage installation, as have some private solar projects, but none have been formally commissioned as yet.

The project will dovetail with work being done by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). ARENA has agreed that the project chosen as part of the Andrews Labor government’s initiative will receive Agency funding if it meets the selection criteria.

Expressions of interest from utility-scale battery storage businesses are being sought by 1 March 2017, and are to be provided to the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) at [email protected]. A formal tender will be issued in April.

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  1. George Darroch 3 years ago

    Is 20MW large?

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      It’s a pee in a swimming pool, when considering the amount of homes in Victoria. But in terms of say a town of 2,000 households that’s 10kwh per house that’s quite significant.

      • david H 3 years ago

        Thank for adding some real meaning to it.

    • David leitch 3 years ago

      There are still not that many 20 MW batteries actually installed around the world. In California the the Aliso Canyon project has 70 MW in 20, 20, 30 mw configuration from three suppliers and that is about the largest global lithium installation. That project was only started six months ago. South Korea has some largish installations but I think a flow battery is the biggest.

    • trackdaze 3 years ago

      A tesla power pack 2 is about 50kw so you would need 400 of them.

    • WR 3 years ago

      It’s enough to power about 6,000 homes during the evening peak if you assume that the homes are using an average of 3-3.5 kW of power at that time.

      if Victoria were looking to meet their current power demand from 100% renewable supply with at least 80% of the energy coming from wind and solar, they would probably be looking to install storage that could deliver up to 7,000 MW of power with an energy storage capacity of about 60,000 MWh. So 20 MW of power is just a start.

    • Gordon 3 years ago

      That depends on how long it can deliver 20MW for, which is not specified in the article, it gives no indication of the amount of stored energy.
      My home battery could deliver 20kW for an hour, so perhaps it is 1000X that size in energy storage.

      • Peter King 3 years ago

        Thats a pretty big home battery, I’d like one of them but from what I understand it would cost around $15000.00 installed so its out of the question for now. In regards to the Vic governments proposed 20MW storage installation, it’s obviously only the beginning and as these storage installations become more popular at this size and bigger, renewable’s will become cheaper and cheaper without any of the current disadvantages. It’s sad that our current federal government who should be leading the way for the benefit of all the citizens of this country is too busy pandering to the old school mining lobbyists and the shareholders of these environment destroying corporations. Still, its what I expect from the government that mandated that Australia will continue to operate on an internet connection that is “Copper to the node”.
        Good on yer Trumble!

        • Gordon 3 years ago

          It’s a reasonably normal size for an off-grid system, cost me about $12000 to do myself in 2012, upgraded from flooded Lead-acid, which I’ve been running since 1991.

    • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

      I would see these facilities as being paired to regional townships for periods when they might experience load shedding. So 20 MW for Ararat (pop 11,000), say 5000 homes (probably conservative) that’s 4 kW per household. That’s not enough to run ducted AC, the oven and a vacuum cleaner at the same time but it would be enough to run the basics.

    • Alexei Watson 3 years ago

      Yes it’s large, but not relative to the entire network.

      The inverters from a grid scale battery can provide very fast reactive support though (MVAr), both inductive reactance and capacitive reactance.

      Reactive support allows the battery to keep the voltage within an acceptable range during very heavy or very light load scenarios.

      The battery also allows the network to defer a peak load, 20MW for a short time might be all that is needed to keep the network on.

      Another thing that batteries can provide, which is a new concept on power networks, is Fast Frequency Response. Batteries can respond to a dip in the frequency far faster than any other technology available; a big injection of power at a moments notice can keep the frequency at 50HZ, whereas without, protection devices would operate. FFR is only intended for a period of some seconds which can allow the network to load shed extremities and keep the rest of the network on, instead of a wide spread outage.

      There is much more benefit to grid scale storage than simply the power output or the energy stored.

  2. David leitch 3 years ago

    BTW Go Victoria! You will beat Sth Aust to it although their need is greater.

  3. trackdaze 3 years ago

    First 20Mw then 50Mw then 100Mw then its game over for the wroughting by gas peakers.

    With gas players gaming the system to ream $14000Mw they have brought on their own demise.

  4. Brunel 3 years ago

    You should simply say battery instead of battery storage.

    Like grain storage, the latter sounds like a warehouse to store batteries in.

  5. Kevan Daly 3 years ago

    It’s not satisfactory to characterise a storage facility in terms of the charge and discharge rate of 20 MW. For example, when I put petrol in my car I do so at a 17MW rate, but only for about 4 minutes. You need to either put a MWh figure on it or say how long the 20 MW rate can be sustained.

    • Giles 3 years ago

      So, we get this every time we announce a tender. Virtually all tenders, in california, rest of US, europe etc, announce tenders in MW, not MWh. They will know the MWh when they choose the winner, having looked at chemistry, technology and their capability and their relevance to the particular need of the site.

      • neroden 3 years ago

        It’s just sloppy. They should specify both (as minimums, obivously).

        I mean, I could provide huge numbers of MW for very short periods using certain types of capacitors or inductors, but that’s silly.

        I had to dig through the UK storage bid documents to figure out that their national bids were all specifically for half an hour (so, the number of MWh is 1/2 the number of MW).

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          Our only market for energy as far as I know is in regular half an hour intervals.

          If there are any other power markets aside from this one available please let me know.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      Yep. How long do they want the 20MW for. 10 mins? 30 mins? 240 mins?

    • Peter F 3 years ago

      It is if the purpose is short term grid support or perhaps 60-120 minutes of peak shaving. It is no good having 100MWhr of batteries in a 5MW system if the demand is 20MW for the next half hour

  6. Steve Jordan 3 years ago

    Would it be possible for all the the states, even the West, to join in this procurement process so that the whole grid can benefit from a storage facility to which all states have contributed some technical requirements? The idea of any one state crowing about this shows little commercial or political maturity, even in this, the year of the rooster!!
    Giles, please do keep us informed on the progress of this EOI/RFT. It is a start to addressing the problem of storage which the grid badly needs.

    • Ray Miller 3 years ago

      Yes Steve would lower the price for all, it’s about time AEMO started to manage for their fee. At the current rate we deserve a refund.

  7. solarguy 3 years ago

    A 20MWH battery is a start and I’m chuffed to hear of it. Slowly perhaps we will hear of more of these sized batteries being installed. In the not to distant future we should also hear about pumped hydro being installed, because we need mega storage in the thousands and tens of thousands of MWH going forward to 100% RE as cheap as possible. PHS is only one source of cheap storage, that can’t be put everywhere.

  8. Peter F 3 years ago

    The point of that amount of storage is not really bulk storage renewables, it grid support to allow Mortlake for example to ramp up in the case of a sudden change in demand or loss of supply. It is a grid reliability solution in the face of reduced spinning reserves. It will still reduce the amount of gas consumed because its fast response will mean 100-200 MW of gas can be offline rather than running just in case

  9. Ray Miller 3 years ago

    Maybe it is time to do some very technical and high level NEM investigations as to what exactly is
    required to perform the set task. How bizarre is this we have a state
    government stepping in to the National Electricity System to provide
    equipment to somehow improve an undefined technical problem? Has the AEMO research what exact services which will be required?
    So it is again bizarre that that AEMO is not requesting (or maybe they are) a very specific ‘energy storage device’ with detailed technical specifications and adding what value/service it will also provide and problem it will fix?

    This maybe is another example of the fundamental problems we have with the old clunker NEM.

    • DJR96 3 years ago

      Ray you’re right on to the crux of the issue here.
      It is well known, obvious even, that substantial storage will solve a myriad of technical issues with the network and the market. The difficult bit is creating the regulations (replacing the existing) to provide the market incentives to invest and operate such storage facilities.
      Just for starters, ALL of the ancillary services need to be removed from the synchronous generators and given to the storage operators. Battery storage can perform all these functions much better.

      I envisage we’ll have around 5-6 GWh of capacity that actually form the grid. By that I mean they control and maintain frequency and it’ll never be a variable ever again. Truly stable and reliable network.

    • Alastair Leith 3 years ago

      I think you’re describing the failures of AEMC, AEMO and the market design not the problem of Government trying to do something about the grid lock.

    • The Awul Truth 3 years ago

      These silicon storage guys have no public technical papers, no engineering reports or anything. This reeks of BS being pumped by a few journos.

      • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

        Many companies with tech like this wouldn’t publish anything as that is revealing their IP to the rest of the market. Losing your IP is pretty stupid if you’re looking for a buyer/new investor to take it to the next level.

        The principle makes sense – like molten salt storage on a CST facility, just a different storage medium.

        I guess the interesting part is knowing what sort of conversion losses occur between electricity to molten silicon and back to electricity again.

        • Rebekka Power 3 years ago

          That’s called a patent. You don’t need to hide your IP, you’re protected by your patents.

  10. tonysadgrove 3 years ago



  11. Bruce 3 years ago

    Renewables sponsered by Government
    This will not solve base power requirements
    Would prefer reliable affordable 3phase base power coming into my business from a reliable power source than a paddock full of solar panels

    • Su 3 years ago

      re “sponsored by Government”
      Who do you think built all of the existing coal fired power stations around the country? It was in fact the government. Why is suddenly a problem now that renewables are coming on line? Keep energy in public hands.

      • Bruce 3 years ago

        No problem with strategic infrastructure such as power remaining in public hands
        unfortunately most of them are sold into private enterprise which is profit driven
        So there lies the dilemma who’s now going to fill the needs of the less attractive areas profit wise
        Government has a responsibility to step in where required
        Governments have to take ultimate responsibility to secure base power mainline infrastructure.

        • Su 3 years ago

          Well, same with the rail – the profitable freight portion gets sold off and the public is left with the passenger rail which doesn’t achieve cost recovery in some locations. Privatise the profits – socialise the losses as they say. Another page from the neo-liberal text book.
          But pawning off state assets is not popular nor an inevitability – that’s up to us and the policies/pollies we vote in (acknowledging that in many cases the horse has already bolted).
          Past privatisations shouldn’t stop Governments from investing in renewable energy now and in the future – especially battery storage to bring on energy distribution, even in its fledgling stages. In the long run it stands to be cheaper and more stable than what we have now.
          The old centralised coal fired power station with massive tentacles all over the state has had its day. Line impedance losses alone are wasteful and inefficient. And a productivity commission report worked out that gearing up to accommodate peak loads of around 40 hours a year accounts for a quarter of energy bills. That’s nuts.
          We’ve got to start somewhere scaling up distributed renewable energy and storage.
          And Government can get less expensive finance than the private sector, and we will all own it.

  12. Mark Skinner 3 years ago

    Batteries are the weak link in the power industry. If we can STORE power, it’s a game changer. Yeah ! !

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