BlackRock’s Akaysha wins contract for southern hemisphere’s biggest battery


Akaysha Energy, now owned by BlackRock, has confirmed it won the tender to deliver the Waratah Super Battery to be built north of Sydney.

In the announcement, Akaysha confirmed it is contracted to deliver a battery capable of providing a guaranteed continuous active power capacity of at least 700 MW and a guaranteed useable energy storage capacity of at least 1,400 MWh.

The company added, however, the physical size of the of battery storage system is anticipated to be 850 MW / 1,680 MWh, allowing the company to trade the additional 150 MW/ 280 MWh of capacity in the electricity market as well as potentially releasing it during off-peak times.

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

Image: NSW Treasury

The news comes just a day after the former coal-fired Munmorah Power Station, owned by the state government, on the NSW Central Coast was revealed as the project’s site.

Akaysha Energy’s winning bid for the tender saw it lead a consortium which also included US equipment manufacturer Powin and Consolidated Power Projects Australia (CPP). 

Powin will provide the battery hardware and software, deploying its modular Centipede battery energy storage system (BESS) platform and Stack OS control system. Powin’s wholly owned subsidiary, EKS Energy, will provide the power conversion systems.

CPP has then been selected as the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) company for the project, and will be responsible for all site works, including the battery system’s installation, and high voltage connections.

Waratah Super Battery details

Located about 100 kilometres north of Sydney and approximately 25 kilometres south of the retiring Eraring coal-fired power station, the battery will be built on a 138,000 square metre site – around the size of eight AFL fields. 

Origin, the designer of the Eraring power station in New South Wales, Australia, this year brought the plant’s retirement forward by seven years from 2032 to 2025, citing to “rapidly changing market conditions.”

Image: Nick Pitsas/CSIRO

The NSW government is delivering the Waratah Super Battery project as part of its response to the anticipated early closure of Eraring, which is owned by Origin Energy and expected to retire in August 2025. Eraring currently represents about 25% of NSW’s thermal generating capacity, so its closure requires serious consideration to preserve the grid’s system integrity.

Matt Kean, NSW’s energy minister and treasurer, was revealed to have been in discussions with Origin Energy about Eraring’s early closure – discussions the then federal energy minister, Angus Taylor, was not a part of. With these discussions beginning long before the early closure was announced earlier this year, it appears the Waratah Super Battery has been considered by the state government for quite some time.

The Waratah battery will operate as part of what’s called a System Integrity Protection Scheme, developed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), as a way to secure primarily transmission capacity and stability, rather than additional electricity storage capacity. Hence the frequent references to Waratah acting as a “shock absorber”.

The System Integrity Protection Scheme appears to have been first used with Neoen’s Victorian Big Battery (VBB), commissioned last year. In 2021, Neoen was awarded the contract to supply up to 250 MW of energy reserve from its 300 MW / 450 MWh battery to increase the capability of the Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) over the summer.

The scheme helps reframe and solidify the range of uses big batteries can serve in Australia’s grid.

Coming back to the Waratah Super Battery, the project has already been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW government. AEMO has also already identified it as an “actionable NSW project”, which means it considers the project’s development should commence as soon as possible.

The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo), which appointed Akaysha Energy as the project’s service provider, has previously said construction will begin in early 2023, pending approval, and to be completed by mid-2025 in advance of Eraring’s earliest closure date.

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