In late November 2020, Origin Energy (Origin) unveiled plans to build up to five big batteries as the Australian energy utility looks to pick up the pace on its transition to clean energy.
One of these big batteries is set to be built at Australia’s largest power station – the 2.88 GW Eraring coal generator in the New South Wales (NSW) Hunter region. The coal-fired power station, which supplies around a quarter of NSW’s energy needs, is set to close in 2032. Building the battery at the site would allow Origin to use the ageing coal-fired power plant’s existing infrastructure and network connectivity. However, the exact size of the battery was not then revealed.
However, yesterday Origin announced that it is planning the nation’s largest battery at Eraring Power Station with an overall capacity of 700 MW and a dispatch duration of 4 hours (that’s approximately four times larger than the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia). The announcement comes as Origin issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) as it looks for a large-scale battery energy storage supplier and installer.
Origin Executive General Manager, Energy Supply and Operations, Greg Jarvis, said deploying a battery at Eraring supports Origin’s decarbonisation objectives and recent NSW energy policy announcements.
“We recognise we have an important role to play in positioning Origin’s electricity generation portfolio to support Australia’s rapid transition to renewables,” said Jarvis. “A large-scale battery at Eraring will help us better support renewable energy and maintain reliable supply for customers, by having long-duration storage ready to dispatch into the grid at times when renewable sources are not available.”
Origin has already lodged a Connection Enquiry with NSW transmission network service provider TransGrid to the aim of connecting the battery to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Once a preferred supplier is determined, required permitting achieved, and network connection established, Origin expects the operational capacity of this mega battery to be deployed over three phases, with the first expected to see completion by late 2022.
“The deployment of this battery at Eraring will support Origin’s orderly transition away from coal-fired generation by 2032,” continued Jarvis, “while complementing the policy objectives of the NSW energy roadmap.”
The game is afoot
The race for the title of Australia’s largest battery is certainly on. Indeed, Origin’s announcement came on the same day as French renewables giant (and owner of Hornsdale Power Reserve) Neoen filed planning documents for a 500 MW / 1000 MWh big battery to be built west of Sydney.
This follows on from a massive year for Neoen in 2020, in which the company was awarded a contract for a 300 MW / 450 MWh Victoria Big Battery to be constructed on the outskirts of Geelong as well as securing a 14-year contract with the Australian Capital Territory.
However, Origin has already submitted plans to build a two-stage, 300 MW solar and battery storage project near Morgan in South Australia. And has also outlined plans to install big batteries at three of its biggest gas generator plants – up to 300MW at Mortlake in Victoria, up to 200MW at Uranquinty in New South Wales, and an unspecified size on the Darling Downs in Queensland.
AGL, another of Australia’s largest and longest-serving polluters, is also making rapid headway toward its goal of 850 MW of new large-scale battery storage in its portfolio by FY 2024. AGL has already announced a 200 MW large grid-scale battery project based at Loy Yang in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, and a 250 MW, four-hour duration battery system in development at the site of its Torrens Island Power station in South Australia.
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