A 10 MW/20 MWh Australian Capital Territory (ACT) battery energy storage system has formally commenced commercial operations with the territory government describing the facility in Canberra’s northern suburbs as a critical component in the city’s move towards full electrification.
Developed and owned by Global Power Generation (GPG), a subsidiary of Spanish energy giant Naturgy, the ACT battery has enough storage to power approximately 3,000 homes for two hours and is now fully operational as part of the National Electricity Market (NEM).
Naturgy said the battery, which actually commenced operations in November, will increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the grid, and better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy into the Canberra network.
The ACT government has identified energy storage and battery technology as key to the city’s planned shift to full electrification. The government plans to electrify Canberra with renewable electricity over the next two decades.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the battery will help future proof the territory’s energy supply by reducing the load on Canberra’s electricity network and increasing network reliability.
“This battery is a significant first for the city, given energy storage and battery technology are a critical component of our zero emissions future,” Barr said. “We have even more battery storage on the horizon for the ACT, with a further 250 MW of grid-scale and neighbourhood batteries to be installed in the coming years as part of our Big Canberra Battery Project.”
That project aims to deliver at least 250 MW of grid-connected battery storage to support the electricity network. It also involves the rollout of a still to be specified number of neighbourhood batteries at sites around the city.
The Big Canberra Battery project is in addition to the 100 MW/200 MWh Capital Battery being developed in Canberra by Neoen. The French renewables giant has predicted the project will be operational later in 2023.
For Naturgy, the ACT battery is the first energy storage facility it has developed anywhere in the world and reinforces the company’s commitment to the Australian energy market.
“The launch of commercial operation of this facility represents an important step in strengthening our contribution to the energy transition,” GPG Chief Business Development Officer Pedro Serrano said.
“Looking forward, we are excited about the future of renewable energy in Australia. Our commitment to this country is firm and this is reflected in our strategic plan.”
Serrano said the company is planning to grow its Australian portfolio of renewable technologies including wind, solar and energy storage to 2.2 GW by 2025.
Naturgy already has a significant portfolio of wind farms in Australia, including the 125 MW Cunderdin hybrid solar-plus-storage project east in Western Australia, the 96 MW Crookwell 2 Wind Farm in New South Wales and the 180 MW Berrybank 1 Wind Farm in Victoria.
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We were told that Canberra was already 100% renewable. Why does this read like that’s not actually the case?
Hi Gavin, great question. So the ACT does have 100% renewable electricity already, but it does this through power purchasing agreements (PPAs) – effectively pre-purchasing the output of solar and wind projects both from within and outside of the ACT.
Now I’m not an expert on the exact ACT situation, but without lots of storage, to claim that 100% mark you often have to overbuy electricity to guarantee it can meet demand at all times. The bigger issue here is that approach doesn’t actually supply green electrons into Canberra houses, but is really more that the ACT government has guaranteed there is enough renewable power in the national grid to cover the territory’s needs.
By adding storage, like the battery in this article, you can ensure that, say, all the surplus electricity generated by solar systems on Canberra roofs is actually stored and redistributed in the ACT. It is just a more refined way of delivering renewable energy really, but since the ACT government pledged to deliver 100% renewables by 2020, and there wasn’t enough storage on the grid then (or now) so they had to deliver the promise via the cruder PPA route.
As time goes on, I would imagine we will start to see time matched renewable guarantees, which is more refined again.
This article from last year might go some ways to explaining in more granular detail what I mean – https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2022/07/27/not-actually-green-why-time-matching-is-key-to-becoming-a-hydrogen-superpower/ (Don’t be alarmed by the hydrogen focus, the main thrust in the piece is explaining the difference between RE100 sites like the ACT and actually delivering green electrons).
Hope this was useful!
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