Tesla and Neoen, the French renewable energy company, are partnering to build one of the world’s largest lithium-ion batteries in Australia.
The Victorian Big Battery based in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, will have a capacity of 450 megawatt-hours and will play an important role in Australia’s transition from coal-fired electricity generation to renewables. The new facility will store roughly enough energy to power 500,000 homes for an hour. It will also be used to modernise and stabilise the energy grid in Victoria, where the government has set a policy objective of delivering half of the state’s energy requirement via renewables by 2030.
“By securing one of the biggest batteries in the world, Victoria is taking a decisive step away from coal-fired power and embracing new technologies that will unlock more renewable energy than ever before,” said Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s environment minister.
The battery will help overcome the intermittent nature of solar and wind power by providing reserve capacity to the grid when the sun is not shining or wind conditions are suboptimal, said analysts.
Neoen has been awarded a government contract to provide system integrity services to the electricity grid and will deliver the 300MW battery using Tesla’s megapack technology by the end of 2021, the company said.
Neoen and Tesla built the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in Australia in 2017, which initially had an output of 100MW before it was upgraded to 150MW last year. The facility was built in South Australia following an audacious bet by Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, that he could install enough battery technology within 100 days to fix an energy crisis that caused statewide blackouts.
The South Australian government has praised the battery, which Neoen said had saved consumers A$50m ($35.7m) in its first year of operation. It was the first large-scale battery in Australia to provide inertia and fast frequency services — important elements needed to maintain grid stability — to the national electricity network.
Australia’s energy system has traditionally been dominated by coal, which is the most polluting form of energy. But in recent years, several large plants have closed, driving coal consumption down to a 25 year low in 2018-19.
Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the decision by Tesla and Neoen was a sign of momentum in Australia’s energy transition. “This is not a slow, orderly, incremental change under way. This is great to see. This technology driven energy transition is inevitable and accelerating.”
An increasing number of large-scale lithium-ion batteries are being built or planned, as utilities install more renewable generation infrastructure to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
In May, Vistra Corp announced plans to add an extra 400 megawatt-hours battery to complement a 1,200 megawatt-hours battery under construction in California. Florida Power & Light plans to build a 409MW battery and solar plant in the state by 2021.
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