Australia – and indeed the entire southern hemisphere – officially has a new biggest battery.
Owned and operated by French renewable developer Neoen and using Tesla’s Megapack technology, the 300 MW / 450 MWh battery doubles the capacity of the previous front runner, South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve.
It unlikely the Victorian big battery will keep that position for long though, given Australia’s bulging storage pipeline and the cracking pace at which the plans can be realised. The battery went into operation just 12 months after Neoen was awarded its grid services contract with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
There can also be no denying that the days of naming the batteries by their state location followed by ‘big battery’ will soon be over – though it appears interested parties are eager to suck the last drops out of the tradition.
Located next to Moorabool Terminal Station in Geelong, the battery was declared fully operational today by Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosion and of course the Neoen team. The Andrews government said the battery will “modernise the state’s electricity grid” as well as supporting new renewable energy capacity and improving power reliability.
The government also cited “‘independent analysis”, though it didn’t mention its source, which reportedly shows every $1 invested in the battery will deliver $2.40 in benefits to Victorian households and businesses.
Fire during commissioning
The battery has already drawn global attention – less for its size and more because of the drama of the fire in July which broke out during the battery’s commissioning, destroying two of the project’s 212 Tesla Megapacks.
Sparking renewed discussions around the safety of lithium-ion battery technologies, the investigation into the fire deemed the most likely cause to be a leak within the Megapack cooling system. The system in place to detect such faults didn’t set off alarms though because it hadn’t been given adequate time to ‘map’ the control system.
The investigation returned a list of action to be taken, all of which the have reportedly been implemented.
System Integrity Protection Scheme
The Victorian big battery is part of the newly introduced System Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) initiated by the Victorian government to bring forward critical transmission investments.
As part of the scheme, the battery has a 250 MW contract with AEMO which will see it reserve 80% of its capacity to allow the energy market operator to increase the power flow through the Victoria-New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) over the next decade of Australian summers.
Under the contract, the battery will provide an automatic instant response in the event of an unexpected network outage, providing AEMO with an additional means of ensuring grid stability.
Of course, the battery will also participate in electricity spot and services markets like the lucrative Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) market.
Neoen now has 2 GW of projects in its pipeline for Victoria alone, with other batteries planned for Queensland, New South Wales and another for South Australia. The company also owns and operates the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which was the world’s largest battery when it was completed back in 2017.
“The delivery of the Victorian Big Battery is a major achievement for Neoen, not only because it is one of the largest batteries in the world, but also because it represents another key milestone in terms of innovation,” Neoen’s chairman and CEO, Xavier Barbaro, said. “Our journey in storage began in Australia in 2015 and we now have over half a gigawatt of storage operating across 3 continents.”
“We are extremely proud to have delivered the largest battery in Australia in record time. I would like to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this happen; our partners at Tesla and AusNet, UGL and Downer, as well as AEMO and the Victorian Government,” the company’s managing director for Australia, Louis de Sambucy, added.
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