Australia’s next big battery13 April 2022
ENGIE, Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG), and Fluence are partnering to deliver a 150 MW/150 MWh battery installation, to be constructed at the site of ENGIE’s former Hazelwood lignite fuelled power station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria
In terms of energy storage capacity, the Hazelwood Battery Energy Storage System is a little smaller than South Australia’s Tesla-supplied Hornsdale Power Reserve, aka the “Big Battery”, which has recently been expanded from 100 MW/129 MWh to 150 MW/193.5 MWh. But Hazelwood has the distinction of being Australia’s “largest privately-funded and owned utility-scale battery”, say its developers. The Hornsdale Power Reserve facility was developed by owner Neoen in conjunction with the South Australian government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The Hazelwood battery project is being funded by ENGIE and GIG and will be built (on a turnkey basis), operated, and maintained over a 20-year period by Fluence.
ENGIE says the project represents the next major milestone in its commitment to repurpose the former Hazelwood power station, which was decommissioned in 2017, “to create a long-term sustainable asset.” As an established power generation site “with access to 1600 MW of dormant transmission capacity, Hazelwood is uniquely placed to accommodate this first stage of the battery”, which is scheduled to be operational by November 2022, “to align with increasing demand in the summer months”, says ENGIE, noting that “the battery’s innovative design and the Hazelwood site’s unique location provide the flexibility to scale up storage capacity quickly and cost-effectively in order to respond to network and market demand, including additional capacity for future contracts.”
As well as supporting the accelerating build-out of solar and wind resources, the Hazelwood battery will also participate in frequency control ancillary service markets, “delivering critical stability to a grid increasingly comprised of intermittent renewable sources.” It will provide grid stability offerings for all eight frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) included in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) and has additional capabilities for addressing future NEM FCAS markets, including fast frequency response (FFR).
“ENGIE’s long-term commitment to Hazelwood and the Latrobe Valley started as a power station operator, then as investor in a multi-million-dollar rehabilitation project and now as the builder and owner of a new energy asset that helps with the decarbonisation of the energy system,” said ENGIE ANZ CEO Augustin Honorat.
The Hazelwood battery will employ Fluence’s Gridstack technology platform, the first Gridstack system to be deployed in Australia, and will consist of 342 modular, standardised factory-built Fluence Cubes.
Once operational, the consortium will use Fluence’s AI-enabled IQ platform to optimise the bidding of the Hazelwood battery facility into NEM.
Advanced inverters sought
Meanwhile, on behalf of the Australian government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a $100 million competitive funding round for “grid scale batteries equipped with advanced inverters to support the grid.”
The new funding round – with a deadline for expressions of interest of 31 March 2022 – will provide up to $100 million in funding to new battery energy storage projects of 70 MW or larger operating in the NEM or Western Australia’s wholesale electricity market. In addition to supporting new build projects, funding will also be available to existing grid scale batteries seeking to retrofit advanced inverter capability.
The funding round aims to incentivise and derisk private sector investment and overcome barriers to the deployment of advanced inverter technology. By funding advanced inverter technology at scale, ARENA hopes to provide valuable insights into the operations and emerging capabilities of advanced inverters.
It is expected that the funding round will support at least three projects, with a maximum grant available of $35 million per project. Applications will be open to all battery energy storage technologies, provided that they are equipped with advanced inverters.
Advanced inverters enable grid scale batteries to provide system stability services traditionally provided by synchronous generation, such as coal or gas.
In July, the Australian Energy Market Operator published its white paper on advanced inverters highlighting the importance of grid scale batteries equipped with advanced inverter technology in supporting the energy transition.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “We’ve seen promising signs that advanced inverters can support system stability, but it’s clear public sector investment is still needed to prove the technology at scale. We’re confident that ARENA funding will help drive the uptake of this technology and provide valuable lessons that will benefit the industry as a whole.”
This funding round builds on ARENA’s previous investments in both grid scale batteries and system security, including a recent study by Powerlink Queensland which found that batteries with advanced inverters can play a valuable role in maintaining system strength, supplementing the use of synchronous condensers.
ARENA has funded six grid scale batteries since 2017 (including the Hornsdale Power Reserve). The ARENA-funded Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) project in South Australia is currently Australia’s largest grid-connected battery using advanced inverter technology, but this will be surpassed once Hornsdale Power Reserve completes its upgrade to advanced inverters.