Townsville outskirts to welcome 4 MW Tesla battery

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A 4 MW Tesla battery will be built at Bohle Plains on Townsville’s northern outskirts later this year to support the transition to renewables and provide back-up power to the local community.

The new battery will store excess solar being fed into the grid during the day in what the Queensland government described as “the solar hotspot of Townsville” and be used to help out during evening peak, as well as provide back-up power in case of temporary disruptions, including storms.

The system is being installed by Queensland public energy utilities, with design work under way and onsite civil work pencilled in for late August.

“This is a small but significant addition to Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity system, a system which is delivering cheaper prices on average compared to other mainland states in the National Energy Market (NEM),” Acting Energy Minister Mark Furner said.

The battery system will form part of a 135 MW virtual power plant (VPP), owned and managed by Yurika, an arm of publicly-owned Energy Queensland.

With now about as much as 40,000 rooftop solar systems, the VPP pilot was launched in 2015 . Last year, the Townsville cloud-based, load control network last year welcomed big industrial players as foundation customers – Australian zinc metals producer Sun Metals and agribusiness company MSF Sugar.

The virtual plant has supplied power to the NEM 65 times since it was commissioned just under a year ago, including during recent heatwave and evening peaks, the government said in a release.

According to Acting Energy Minister Mark Furner, Townsville was chosen for the grid-connected battery because of the high number of rooftop solar systems and its proximity to electricity infrastructure.

“With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network,” Mr Furner said.

“It is expected to give the local network greater capacity to take on residential solar in Townsville, as well as provide back-up during summer peak demand.”

The Tesla battery is building on the Palaszczuk Government’s $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan, and represent an important step towards enabling a renewable energy future and reaching Queensland’s target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress [towards this goal]. As the first publicly-owned community scale battery in Queensland, this represents an energy milestone,” said Furner.

Queensland has a few big battery projects at various stages, including the one at the solar PV+wind+storage Kennedy Energy Park, the Lakeland facility near Cooktown featuring 10.8 MW solar+1.4 MW/5.3 MWh battery storage system, as well as a major project with a solar PV capacity of 55 MW and 20 MW/80 MWh of battery storage proposed by Japan’s JERA and US-based Fluence.

This article was amended on Jan 30 to reflect the fact that the VPP will be both owned and operated by Yurika.