The Queensland government-owned electricity utilities will install the state’s first “community-scale” big battery, with a 4MW/8MWh Tesla battery to be built in Townsville later this year.
The new battery will enhance the Queensland government’s existing 135MW “virtual power plant”, will store excess solar power for use in peak periods later in the day, act as back-up in storms, facilitate more rooftop solar in the area, and will also help defray network spending by reducing the strain on local infrastructure such as transformers.
The initiative was announced over the weekend by acting energy minister Mark Furner, who said the battery would be located in the “solar hotspot” of Townsville to support the transition to renewables and provide back-up power to the local community.
“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress to enabling a renewable energy future and reaching our target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” Furner said in a statement.
“As the first publicly owned community scale battery in Queensland, this represents an energy milestone.”
Queensland has a few other big batteries installed, under construction or in the planning process. This includes the Lakeland facility near Cooktown, at the soon-to-be-commissioned wind-solar-battery hybrid energy park at Kennedy, and at a new project proposed by Lyon Group and backed by Japanese energy giant Jera.
The Tesla battery will be installed at Bohle Plains on Townsville’s northern outskirts in October, with design work underway now and onsite civil works scheduled for late August.
It will be managed by Yurika, a newly formed government-owned energy unit, that also runs the virtual power plant and which has also managed the roll-out of the fast-charging electric vehicle network in the state.
The VPP so far has access to 135MW of capacity, sourcing it from suppliers such as zinc producer Sun Metals, who will provide excess or un-needed capacity when called on.
The government said the VPP had already supplied power to the National Electricity Market 65 times since it was commissioned just under a year ago, including during recent heatwave and evening peaks.
Furner said Townsville was chosen for the grid-connected battery because of the high number of rooftop solar systems and its proximity to electricity infrastructure.
“With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network,” Furner said in his statement.
“It is expected to give the local network greater capacity to take on residential solar in Townsville, as well as provide back-up during summer peak demand.”
“The battery will also take pressure off substations and other power assets and will explore how such technology may allow Energy Queensland to push back spending on some network infrastructure.”