One of the world’s largest — and the biggest in the southern hemisphere — lithium-ion electricity storage batteries is to be built in Geelong as Victoria seeks to ensure reliable power supplies while making the transition from coal-fired power to renewables.
French renewable energy contractor Neoen SA will install a US-based Tesla 300-megawatt battery at the Moorabool electricity terminal in the state near Geelong.
The battery will have storage capacity to be able to supply power to around 500,000 homes for one hour.
The Paris-based company will pay the $84 million construction cost of the battery, with the contract also covering operation and maintenance.
Cheaper power for Victoria claimed
Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio says consumers will pay for the battery through their power bills but she claims the reduction in wholesale energy prices resulting from the battery’s installation “will mean Victorians will pay less for their power”.
Ms D’Ambrosio added that independent analysis “shows that every $1 invested in the battery will deliver more than $2 in benefits to Victorian households and businesses”.
Demand for electricity is rising at peak times.
“At the same time, Victoria’s ageing coal-fired generators are becoming increasingly unreliable, creating a need for additional capacity to safeguard the state’s power supply,” she added.
Earlier this year California opened a 250MW storage battery near San Diego to help reduce the number of summer blackouts, the battery holding reserves for when solar generation fades from dusk.
Victoria aims to have renewable energy supplying 50% of power by 2030.
Energy Council queries decision
However, it is reported that the Australian Energy Council has termed the battery plan a “bad idea” given that its operation will not be subject to independent scrutiny and there is still no information on the battery’s participation in the national energy market.
This new battery has double the capacity of the Hornsdale Tesla battery installed in South Australia and which was commissioned in December 2017.
Then Tesla boss Elon Musk came to the rescue of the state with his battery technology after South Australia had suffered severe blackouts in 2016.
Victoria and South Australia also have in common that the batteries have been commissioned after the state governments ordered coal-fired power stations to be demolished with explosives without having reached sufficient reliability from renewables.
Closer to shutting huge Yallourn plant
Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Lauze has welcomed Victoria’s move because it got the state closer to being able to close the Yallourn power station.
The 1,450MW Yallourn plant, which burns brown coal, supplies 22% of Victoria’s power and — unlike solar — generates electricity 24 hours a day.
In a separate development, last month Australian power distributor Ausgrid announced it would provide what it called community batteries for individual customers to store their excess solar power and use it when needed.
KPMG undertook a feasibility study and then it was decided to trial the batteries in the Hunter region of NSW.
More than 21% of Australian homes have rooftop solar panels.