Australia will install eight grid-scale batteries to store renewable energy around the country, boosting the main grid storage capacity tenfold. 

Minister for Climate Change & Energy Chris Bowen announced the developments would receive AUD $176 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Large Scale Battery Storage funding round. This initial government funding will open up almost AUD $3 billion of investment across the country, he said. 

“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy. The more renewable energy we have in the system, the cheaper bills will be”, Minister Bowen told reporters in Sydney. “Some people say the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow and that’s true. But we can store renewable energy for when we need it.”

There will be seven new batteries built across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. In addition, there will be a major upgrade of Australia’s largest existing battery, the Victorian Big Battery, he explained.

Australia’s renewable energy generation is also forecast to almost double in the next five years, according to a 2022 International Energy Agency (IEA) report. Together, these batteries will provide a vital additional component of the path to net zero – facilitating the transition from coal to clean while ensuring supply stability along the way.

“This is a big step forward which will see the capacity of Australia’s renewable energy grid receive a major upgrade in the next few years. And it will mean we can store much, much more energy for when we need it”, said Minister Bowen.

Next generation renewable energy storage

Each of the eight grid-scale lithium-ion batteries will range from 200 to 300 megawatts (MW) in size. Combined, they will add 2 gigawatts (GW), or 4.2 gigawatt hours (GWh), of dispatchable renewable electricity. 

Moreover, they will have grid-forming inverter technology. This maintains grid stability usually offered by coal and gas-fired power stations. This will enable the batteries to provide stable and secure grid services to replace the fossil fuel plants set to retire over the coming decade. 

The batteries represent a transformative portfolio of new storage capacity, said ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “These next generation grid scale batteries will underpin this [renewable] transition, with inverter technology that can maintain grid stability without fossil fuels”, he said.

“Battery storage is an essential technology in the transition to renewable energy”, he added. This is because it smooths out variable generation by allowing electricity to be stored and despatched as needed.

One step closer to 100 per cent renewables

ARENA initially launched the program with an AUD $100 million funding pool. This has since been expanded to AUD $176 million in recognition of the high quality of applications received. “ARENA and the Government saw an opportunity to deliver a step change in grid-forming capability across the NEM [National Electricity Market], which we’ve backed with additional funding”, said Mr Miller. 

The batteries will be built along the length of the NEM, with at least one located in every mainland state connected to Australia’s main grid. In total, the batteries will result in a tenfold increase in grid-forming electricity storage capacity. They are expected to be operational by 2025. 

ARENA selected the eight successful projects from a shortlist of 12 announced in July. Those successfully selected for this funding support are:

  • AGL: a new 250 MW / 500 MWh battery in Liddell, New South Wales
  • FRV: a new 250 MW / 550 MWh battery in Gnarwarre, Victoria
  • Neoen: retrofitting the 300 MW / 450 MWh Victorian Big Battery in Moorabool, Victoria to enable grid-forming capability
  • Neoen: a new 200 MW / 400 MWh battery in the Western Downs, Queensland
  • Neoen: a new 200 MW / 400 MWh battery in Blyth, South Australia
  • Origin: a new 300 MW / 900 MWh battery in Mortlake, Victoria
  • Risen: a new 200 MW / 400 MWh battery in Bungama, South Australia
  • TagEnergy: a new 300 MW / 600 MWh battery in Mount Fox Queensland

“This pipeline of grid-forming projects will help move us closer to an electricity grid that can support 100 per cent renewable energy in the NEM”, said Mr Miller.  

Lead photo: Hornsdale Power Reserve, by Neoen