Australia’s energy transition from fossil to renewable energy sources could be accelerated by the announced project of a huge battery for storing electricity, with a capacity of 700 megawatts, in New South Wales.
Origin Energy is planning new technology for its coal-fired power plant in Iraring, south of Newcastle. If the plan is realized, the battery will be four times larger than Tesla’s 150-megawatt unit in South Australia.
Origins CEO Greg Jarvis said the battery would support the company’s transition from electricity to coal production by 2032.
Namely, this week, Origin expressed interest in addressing private companies to construct and install a battery in the power plant, and started talks with the network company Transgrid on connecting the battery to the national network through the Iraring transformer station.
This plant is Australia’s largest power plant, and the only coal-fired company in Origin. It is planned to stop working in 2032.
The mega-battery will enable Origina to use the existing infrastructure and network long after the plant stops producing energy by burning solid ore.
The battery will also support the transition of the NSW power grid from fossil fuels and entry into new solar and wind projects in the coming decades.
According to Jarvis, the company must play a key role in positioning its electricity generation portfolio to support Australia’s rapid transition to renewable energy.
– A large unit in Iraring will help us better support renewable energy and maintain a reliable supply to customers. We will have a long-term warehouse, ready for energy distribution at a time when renewable sources are not available – the general director pointed out.
The mega-battery will be built in three phases, and the first will be completed at the end of next year.
Race for the biggest battery
Origin’s plan follows a similar announcement by French energy giant Neoen, which last month submitted plans for a 500-megawatt mega-battery to be built in the west of NSW.
Neoen, which has teamed up with Tesla to build a 150 MW unit in South Australia, is planning a project on the site of the former Walleroveng power plant, which was owned by Energy Australia, before it was shut down.
The French company is also cooperating with Tesla in the construction of a 300 MW battery near Geelong (Victoria), it was announced in November 2020.
Since October last year, Neoen has over 1.6 gigawatts of renewable power plants in operation or under construction in Australia, more precisely more than three billion dollars of investments, and it intends to reach three gigawatts, worth approximately six billion dollars.
Origine’s 700 MW battery and Neoen’s 500 MW battery will be the two largest storage devices in the world, and will be worth a billion dollars!
Switching to renewables
Marnie Shaw, head of the research team in the battery storage and grid integration program at the Australian National University, said the announcement of building such a large battery was a surprise, but also an important step to support the installation of renewable energy projects at NSW .
– Batteries play an important role in stabilizing the electricity network, as we switch to renewable energy sources – said Dr. Shaw and added that coal-fired power plants become more unreliable with aging, and that batteries guarantee security and stability of power supply.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says that with the new, proposed project, there is almost 7,000 MW of battery storage space across the continent.
That is enough to store electricity for 3.5 million homes.
Dr. Shaw is of the opinion that a clearer strategy of the Federal Government is needed when it comes to their support for investment in renewable energy sources.
– This would enable smaller companies to play a role in the energy transition, and reduce financial risk. These batteries support the transition to a low-carbon economy, which reduces the impact on climate change, the price of energy and support for new investments and jobs in Australia – Dr. Shaw pointed out.
Lower electricity prices in Victoria?
Victoria will house the largest battery for energy storage in the southern hemisphere, as part of the government’s efforts to move the country to renewable energy.
Tesla says that the 450 MW unit has enough energy to power half a million homes in one hour. State Energy Minister Lili Diambrosio said the battery would improve energy reliability in the summer and lower electricity prices, but she could not say how much.
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