CWP backs battery connection deal to boost investor confidence


CWP Renewables said it has received approval from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and New South Wales (NSW) transmission network owner TransGrid to connect the Sapphire Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to the grid once it is constructed and commissioned. The 30 MW one-hour duration battery will be co-located at CWP’s 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm near Glen Innes in the state’s New England region.

CWP Renewables, which has also secured planning approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a 180 MW solar project to be built alongside the wind farm, said its Sapphire battery is the first big battery to receive approval to connect to an existing generation plant at the same connection point in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

CWP Renewables Chief Executive Jason Willoughby described the approvals process as “technically challenging” but said the connection approval would give the Australian clean energy industry confidence that battery energy storage could be added to existing generation projects.

“We’re proud to be leading the way in obtaining the approval under the current regulatory framework,” he said, adding the project is a critical component of offering firmed renewable electricity.

“The transition to renewable energy requires the likes of firming projects such as Sapphire battery, which can help smooth out the variability of wind and solar generation,” he said. “We have agreements with a large range of corporate customers who want to source firmed renewable energy to match their usage and this project brings us another step closer.”

An artist’s impression of the 30 MW Sapphire BESS

Image: CWP Renewables

Richard Lowe, chief executive of Lumea, TransGrid’s commercial arm, said the connection approval for the project is a significant step for the growth of renewables and storage in Australia.

“Energy storage is an important part of laying the foundations to deliver grid stability and connectivity as we transition,” he said. “The Sapphire BESS project exemplifies the collaboration required to move forward at pace.”

Construction of the Sapphire battery is expected to start early next year following financial close, with the facility expected to be operational in 2024.

CWP Renewables said the battery will store excess energy from the wind farm and the grid, with the ability to feed electricity back into the grid during times of low generation or high demand. The battery’s fast response means it will also be able to provide frequency control services, which stabilise the grid and improve power quality.

CWP Renewables, which currently operates and owns 650 MW of renewable energy assets in the NEM and has another 5 GW of wind, storage and firming projects in its near-medium term development portfolio, said the Sapphire BESS is its first battery energy storage project.

It also has approval for a 150 MW battery to be co-located with its 414 MW Uungula Wind Farm in the NSW central west and it expects its future wind farm projects to also include battery storage.

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