$80 million Broken Hill big battery gets green light


The New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has given the $80 million Broken Hill battery energy storage system (BESS) the green light, declaring it will facilitate the increased penetration of renewable energy into the National Electricity Market (NEM).

With the Australian energy market moving away from coal, emerging technologies such as battery storage are increasingly needed to facilitate the transition to renewable energy generation by allowing electricity to be despatched to the grid as needed.

DPIE acting executive director of Energy, Resources and Industry Assessments, Chris Ritchie, said the Broken Hill BESS would capture, store and distribute energy from surrounding wind and solar PV farms, including the 53 MW Broken Hill Solar Farm, shoring up energy supply for the mining town and beyond.

“Batteries will be key players in our transition to a renewable future, releasing extra energy when we need it and storing electricity when we don’t, making sure the grid is secure,” Ritchie said in a statement.

“As we bring more wind and solar projects into the grid, it’s cutting-edge energy storage projects like the Broken Hill Battery that will help maintain reliability and keep the lights on across the state.

“There have been major advances in battery technology, and we will continue to see more large-scale batteries operating alongside solar and wind farms with many in the planning pipeline.”

The Broken Hill BESS is to be built on industrial land about 6 kilometres southeast of the city centre. It will connect to TransGrid’s Broken Hill substation via a 22 kV overhead powerline.

The battery would complement the existing Broken Hill Solar Farm.

Image: AGL

AGL said the battery project has been designed to be compatible with the Broken Hill Solar Farm and the nearby 200 MW Silverton Wind Farm, both of which it operates.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with commissioning planned for 2023.

AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof said a final investment decision on the Broken Hill BESS is subject to the finalisation of contracts and approvals.

“With the green light on planning, we can now proceed to investment decision, another important step to become the leading orchestrator of batteries,” he said.

The battery would connect to the existing Broken Hill substation.

Image: AECOM

The Broken Hill project is part of AGL’s plan to add at least 850 MW of new large-scale battery storage to its portfolio by 2024.

The energy giant has also announced plans to build utility-scale batteries at the site of its Torrens Island power station (250 MW) in South Australia, at Loy Yang A power station in Victoria (200MW) and Liddell power station (150MW) in NSW. Other battery projects include Wandoan (100 MW) in Queensland, Maoneng (4 x 50 MW) in NSW, and Dalrymple (30 MW) in South Australia.

Brokhof said with the progressive increase in installed renewable generators within the NEM, there is a requirement to provide energy storage to add flexibility to Australia’s energy supply and help maintain network stability and security.

“The limiting factor for renewable technology has always been storage but we are taking control of these constraints by turning our attention to firming technology, like batteries,” Brokhof said.

“Batteries and energy storage are critical to supporting the increased growth of renewable generation and in turn driving downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.

“AGL’s grid-scale battery projects are ensuring we have energy storage and firming capacity at the ready to enable a seamless transition from thermal generation to renewables.”

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