Proposed 330 MW Victorian solar farm opts for 500 MWh Swiss battery


Switzerland-based energy storage system provider Energy Vault has spent much of 2022 sealing impressive deals in China, India, and in January South Korea’s Korea Zinc agreed to invest $78.3 million (USD 50 million) in Energy Vault so it can use its energy storage technology at its Australian refinery. On Oct. 26, Energy Vault announced that it had won the contract to install a 250 MW/500 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) at the 330 MW Meadow Creek Solar Farm in Victoria.

Though still in its early stages of development, the Meadow Creek Solar Farm is set to be located outside the town of Wangaratta and could produce enough clean energy to power 110,000 regional homes.

The company’s short duration energy storage (SDES) solution is a lithium-ion based system designed for use cases requiring up to four hours of storage capacity.

Energy Vault is better known for its gravity EVx storage system is comparable to pumped hydro, using grid-scale renewable energy when supply is abundant to drive motors and raise 30-ton blocks on a six-arm crane tower, rather than water, up to a height. When power needs to be discharged back to the grid, the blocks are lowered, harvesting the kinetic energy.

However, in the case of the Meadow Creek Solar Farm a company statement suggests this battery will be a more typical BESS system, grid connected so that it can take advantage of Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS). The company said the battery “will provide the resiliency and flexibility of charge and discharge, essential to shoring up renewable energy supply across the network as Australia adopts the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan.”

“We are delighted to be selected for this important project in Australia,” said Lucas Sadler, vice president of sales and business development for the APAC region for Energy Vault. “Over the past few months, the new Australian federal government has sent a strong mandate to the market to expedite the transition to renewable energy technologies supported by significant state government updates to their clean energy and emissions reduction targets. The Meadow Creek Solar Farm, Hybrid Solar PV and BESS Developments goals are well met with the market release of Energy Vault’s AC and DC block bespoke energy storage solutions for the Australian market.”

Meadow Creek Solar Farm’s development manager, Cameron Munro, said “Energy Vault’s high energy density design, the option to work with both central storage inverters or the new AC Block and the most advanced energy management software, that enables multiple use cases, optimal economic dispatching and predictive maintenance, bring flexibility and further options when working with our financial and technical partners (DNV and AusNet Services).”

Gravity storage

Energy Vault is best known as a gravity storage specialist. The company says there is zero degradation in the storage capacity of its technology’s composite blocks, which can remain in the raised position for unlimited periods of time. Its composite blocks are developed in cooperation with Mexico’s Cemex, using local soil at sites where it builds its storage systems, as well as other materials such as recycled coal ash, waste tailings from mining operations, and decommissioned wind turbine blades.

Energy Vault’s EVx tower features 80% to 85% round-trip efficiency and over 35 years of technical life. It has a scalable modular design up to multiple gigawatt-hours in storage capacity.

The company says its technology can economically serve both higher power/shorter duration applications with ancillary services from two to four hours and can also scale to serve longer-duration requirements from five to 24 hours or more.

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