Contract awarded for New Zealand’s first big battery


New Zealand’s first big battery is slated for construction in Ruakākā, on the country’s North Island, about 150 kilometres north of Auckland. 

The battery system is the first stage of a project that will go on to include a co-located 130 MW solar farm. The battery and solar farm will be part of New Zealand “gentailer” Meridian Energy’s envisioned Ruakākā Energy Park, one of the biggest renewable projects planned for the country.

Site map of the Ruakākā Energy Park

Image: Meridian Energy

French-headquartered Saft will supply the batteries for the project, as well as power conversion equipment, installation, commissioning and 20 years operational services. Specifically, Saft will be supplying 80 of its modular “Intensium Shift” battery containers to the site.

The 3 MWh containers, described by Saft as “scalable building blocks” use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) technology with 40 inverters, Freemaq PCSK GEN3, 20 Medium-Voltage Power Stations and a third-party’s Power Management System. The battery containers are fully populated in Saft’s factories, with the company saying they can reduce both the battery system’s footprint and site-related activities by 50%, allowing a faster deployment of utility-scale storage plants.

Saft’s Intensium Shift is its 5th generation of “ready to install” 20-foot container Energy Storage System. Saft says it is optimised for 2–8 hours energy shifting applications such as renewables’ integration, peaking and capacity support.

Image: Saft

Construction on the Ruakākā Battery Energy Storage System is slated to begin in the first quarter of this year, with the battery anticipated to come online in the second half of 2024.

Meridian expects the battery will deliver annual revenues of up to $50 million (USD 35 million), thanks to the technology’s energy arbitrage potential and its ability to participate in the North Island reserve electricity market.

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