Sydney, Australia: The first attempt at retrofitting a battery behind an existing renewable power plant has pioneered the largest integrated renewable energy and battery system in Australia and among the largest in the world.
Today, Edify Energy is pleased to release the Knowledge Sharing Report for Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS), a symbiotic relationship of battery and solar, outpacing policy and strengthening the future of accessible renewable power.
Identifying the need for dispatchable renewable energy, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP), together with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided a $25 million grant towards a solution. Rising to the challenge Edify commenced the audacious challenge to retrofit a Tesla Battery system to an existing 50MW solar farm in Gannawarra, Victoria. Edify and Wircon, in a 50 – 50 JV provided the private capital to deliver GESS.
The deployment of GESS unearthed several complex and multifaceted challenges, in a classic example of technology outpacing regulatory reforms. The issues faced demanded new regulatory, commercial and technical pathways. The Knowledge Sharing Report released today stands to disseminate these learnings, to benefit the broader sector in the future development of hybrid systems.
These learnings highlight that while there is a potentially significant opportunity to retrofit batteries to existing renewable projects to better utilize the sunk cost from network connection infrastructure and expand the options to these projects in managing evolving market risks, the process of executing such arrangement is complex (with more complexity today than in 2017). For the retrofit model to gain traction, a more seamless retrofit connection process is required that removes barriers to entry by preserving the technical status of the existing generator in recognition of the utility that batteries provide to the system.
As large-scale solar and wind continue to cement their place as the cheapest source of electricity in Australia and globally, with speed to market advantages over conventional power plants, the use of batteries and other storage technologies will play an increasingly important role in their continued deployment at pace and scale. As a sector, we need to identify the most efficient regulatory, physical and commercial solutions to achieve this.
During the high temperature and demand events in Victoria in January 2019, the Gannawara Solar Farm and GESS worked in an integrated manner in very trying climatic conditions (that will only increase in frequency) to provide electricity when it was most needed by Victorian consumers. The timing of the release of solar power was managed by the battery to coincide with the highest demand periods and demonstrated how the combination of renewables and batteries can provide reliable on-demand power at a time when conventional generators were vulnerable to failure.
Edify will continue to play a market-leading role in the pursuit of this vision by bringing into operation a portfolio of renewable energy and storage projects, creating dispatchable power stations. It is our ongoing obsession to bring to life sustainable, reliable and affordable energy to Australian electricity consumers. We aim to deliver many more projects like GESS and will continue the steadfast march towards a responsible, renewable energy future.
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