NSW government settles on site for ‘super’ battery


The New South Wales (NSW) government has confirmed the 700 MW/1,400 MWh Waratah Super Battery project will be built at the state-owned site of the former 1,400 MW coal-fired Munmorah Power Station near Doyalson on the Central Coast.

The Waratah Super Battery, launched in February after Origin Energy announced it would accelerate the closure of the 2,880 MW Eraring coal-fired power station, is slated to be the largest standby network battery in the Southern Hemisphere.

The battery is designed to provide reserve transmission capacity and stability, rather than additional electricity storage capacity. It is intended to allow consumers in the state’s main load centres access to more energy from existing electricity generators while maintaining network security.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the Waratah Super Battery will act as a “shock absorber” for the electricity grid so that transmission capacity currently stored in reserve can be freed up to transfer energy to consumers.

“The Waratah Super Battery will be the biggest network battery anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, providing at least 700 MW of standby network capacity to the grid,” he said.

“The battery will ensure electricity consumers in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong have access to more energy from existing generators while new transmission connections are developed.”

The Waratah Super Battery will be constructed on a 15-hectare site previously used to stockpile coal for the Munmorah Power Station.

Image: NSW Treasury

The state government, through the Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) has appointed Transgrid as the network operator for the project and has directed the company to carry it out as a Priority Transmission Infrastructure Project.

Transgrid will coordinate the delivery of the various project components, including the connection of the battery to the grid, and the design and installation of a $30 million control system to trigger the battery into operation when additional energy is required.

Transgrid chief executive officer Brett Redman said the battery will be connected to the grid via the firm’s existing Munmorah substation.

“As part of the project we will carry out $150 million in upgrades to existing transmission lines and substations to enable additional energy generated in regional NSW to be delivered to consumers,” he said.

“Transgrid will also develop, install and operate a $30 million System Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) to monitor the network for disruptions, trigger the super battery into action when required, and dial down energy elsewhere in the grid to balance supply.

“We are fully committed to ensuring a more reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply for Australians as we work with government to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.”

The 1.4 GW Munmorah POwer Station was retired in 2012 and demolished in 2017.

Image: Liberty Industrial

The project has been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW government while the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has identified the project as an “actionable NSW project”, which means it considers the project’s development should commence as soon as possible.

EnergyCo said construction of the Waratah Super Battery is expected to begin in early 2023, pending approval, and to be completed by mid-2025 in advance of Eraring’s earliest closure date.

An expression of interest process conducted earlier this year attracted strong interest from potential suppliers of the big battery system with more than 30 local and international bidders vying to build the battery.

EnergyCo is expected to finalise a competitive tender process to identify suitable battery developers by the end of the year.

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