Victoria to get two new big battery plants from Tesla and Fluence

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Victoria has enlisted tried-and-trusted Tesla and Fluence to build two new big battery installations.

The Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) contributed $25 million to support the Victorian Government’s efforts to bring more battery storage into the mix.

big battery

Tesla big battery to store 25 MW – 50 MWh

Tesla will build a 25 MW – 50 MWh battery which will be hooked up to the 60 MW Gannawarra solar farm near Kerang. Fluence will build a 30 MW-30 MWh battery at the Ballarat terminal station which will be hooked up to the grid.

Tesla already has one similar installation in operation in Jamestown, South Australia, which is hooked up to Neoen’s wind farm at Hornsdale. Tesla is also in the process of building a 20 MW – 34 MWh battery project near another Neoen wind farm in Bulgana, Victoria.

Fluence project to store 30 MW-30 MWh

This will be Fluence’s first venture in Australia. The joint venture between Siemens and AES has built numerous projects in other parts of the world, including a 100MW/400MWh project in Long Beach, California.

The projects were due to come online over summer 2018, but the tendering process hit numerous delays, mostly with the funding model. In the end, ARENA stepped in and matched the Victorian government’s $25 million funding offer.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Australia is a world-leader in battery storage, following grid-scale batteries in South Australia, which include the 100MW/129MWh one by Tesla and the 30MW/8MWh installation funded by ARENA that is being built near the Wattle Point wind farm.

“ARENA is excited to be demonstrating the capabilities that these new batteries will provide in securing reliable electricity for western Victoria and to facilitate Victoria’s transition to renewable energy,” he said in a statement.

“Battery storage will play a crucial role in the future energy mix, alongside other forms of storage and in conjunction with variable renewables and demand management.”

Construction on both projects is due to commence this month, with both batteries to be commissioned in time for the summer peak in 2018/19.

The Tesla battery will be owned by Edify Energy and its partners Wirsol, who are building the Ganawarra solar farm. The solar farm is already operational and the project will serve as a test-case for retrofitting solar plants with storage facilities. 

Queensland battery up and running

It will be the first combined solarbattery storage facility in Victoria, and one of the biggest in the world. Queensland opened Australia’s first such project at Lakeland in February. 

The Fluence battery will be built by a consortium led by Spotless Sustainability Services, and owned by the local grid operator, Ausnet.

Victoria energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the storage projects would be a key to helping the state transition to an affordable, reliable and clean energy system. It has a 40% renewable energy target by 2025.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is giving mixed signals about the projects, downplaying the effectiveness of the Tesla battery in South Australia, however, he has said that the new batteries in Victoria will help stabilise the grid and drive down costs.

The odd thing, however, is that the two Victorian batteries combined have less than half the capacity of the South Australia battery.

Mr Frydenberg said storage was the “missing piece” of the energy puzzle, and it was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who put it at the top of the agenda.

He made no mention of the Teslainstallation in Jamestown, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery and Australia’s first grid-scale battery storage, which has been operating since December 1, 2017, and has played a crucial role in moderating price spikes over the summer.  

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