100 MW Playford battery gets go-ahead to complement Cultana Solar Farm

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A 100MW/100MWh battery at Port Paterson has been given a tick of approval to support electricity infrastructure developments within the Upper Spencer Gulf region of South Australia, including the 280 MW Cultana Solar Farm. Both Cultana and Playford big battery are part of UK steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s ambitious plans to power South Australia’s heavy industry with renewable energy.

Project developer Simec Zen Energy, the Australian arm of Gupta’s GFG Alliance, launched its landmark US$1 billion (AU$1.47 billion) renewable energy initiative last August, announcing the details of its first project – the Cultana Solar Farm. The $350 million solar project received a development approval  mid May, under condition to reduce the impact it may have on native vegetation in the area. It is expected to break ground in October and generate around 350 jobs during construction and 10 full-time positions upon completion. Construction will take 12-15 months with Chinese power company Shanghai Electric handling EPC duties.

The solar farm will be coupled with the 100MW/100MWh battery Playford battery, the development cost of which exceeds $4 million. The facility will consists of 27 battery containers and inverters, transformers and associated electrical equipment. In addition, the proposal includes a medium voltage and low voltage building, control office building, substation and associated infrastructure, security fencing and lighting, access, internal roads, car parking, drainage, stormwater management and connection to transmission.

Once energised, the Playford Utility Battery will also support the energy needs of Simec Energy Australia’s retail electricity customers, GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant, and provide energy services to the National Electricity Market including: market arbitrage, Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) and Fast Frequency Response (FFR).

The Playford battery represents an important firming asset in Simec Energy Australia’s US$1 billion, 1 GW dispatchable renewable energy program in South Australia. At the program’s launch last year, the company confirmed that its second large-scale solar project in the vicinity of the Cultana Solar Farm was already in development. On the occasion, Gupta said even larger projects would follow in other states and announced his ambition to invest in up to 10 GW of large-scale solar and other renewables projects across Australia, supporting industry.

Other projects in Gupta’s SA program include: cogeneration at GFG’s Whyalla Primary Steel plant using waste gas and pumped hydro projects at GFG’s Middleback Ranges mining operations on Eyre Peninsula, which was one of the 12 projects shortlisted under the Coalition’s Underwriting New Generation Investment scheme.