Two large lithium-ion batteries will be built and connected to the grid in regional Victoria this year, giving the state’s west a significant renewable energy boost in time for next summer.
The batteries, which will store solar and wind-generated energy, will be built near Ballarat and Kerang and will have a combined generation capacity of 55 MW and a combined energy storage of 80 megawatt-hours – giving them more than half the power of South Australia’s gigantic 100MW Tesla battery.
The batteries will be built in the state’s west, which is identified as having a vulnerable energy transmission network.
The Turnbull government has committed up to $25 million to what will be the first installation of large-scale, grid-connected batteries in Victoria.
It follows a missed attempt by the Andrews government last year to switch on two, large-scale batteries by January 1 to help compensate for the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
Instead, it will team up with the Turnbull government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency and contribute $25 million of its own to the $50 million project.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the batteries would push down energy prices and improve reliability in Victoria.
“They will not only allow currently unused renewable energy to be stored instead of wasted, but also inject electricity into the grid at times of peak demand in an area known for transmission congestion,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Together, they will help lower power prices and stabilise the grid.”
The two batteries will feed solar and wind-generated energy into the grid in western Victoria, easing the load on the constrained transmission network in that part of the state.
The Kerang-based battery will be supplied by Tesla and connected to the Gannawarra solar farm, Victoria’s biggest, in the state’s north-west.
It will demonstrate how an existing solar farm can be retrofitted with battery storage.
The Ballarat-based battery will be supplied by Fluence and built at a nearby terminal station in Warrenheip.
It will be big enough to power 20,000 households for an hour during peak demand periods.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s chief executive, Ivor Frischknecht, said the batteries would facilitate Victoria’s transition to renewable energy.
The state has set renewable energy targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.
Mr Frydenberg said storage had been the missing piece of the energy jigsaw for some time.
Batteries can store renewable energy and dispatch it when it is needed, delivering solar power at night and wind energy when there is no wind.
The announcement follows the release this week of a report by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which confirmed that the national energy market is steadily moving away from coal as its primary energy source and towards natural gas and wind.
An analysis of the national energy market reveals it has retired 5199 megawatts of baseload generation in the past decade and replaced it with 6584 megawatts of other, mostly renewable, sources.
“The [national energy market] is now facing an unprecedented replacement of its generation fleet,” AEMO’s report says.
“Evidence of this radical transformation can be seen in the change in the portfolio of supply resources … over the last decade, with a shift away from coal generation to natural gas and wind as fuel sources.”