Essential Energy backs battery to maximise solar generation and exports


New South Wales (NSW) government-owned Essential Energy is working with energy gen-tailer AGL Energy to trial its first large-scale network-connected battery as it seeks to ease congestion and improve the reliability of the grid in the high-growth area of Sovereign Hills at Port Macquarie.

The 2 MWh network battery, supplied by Melbourne-based battery technology company EVO Power and to be orchestrated by AGL on behalf of Essential Energy, is designed to address anticipated future network constraints and manage power variability in the trial area.

Connected to an 11 kV high voltage distribution wire on the Essential Energy network, the Sovereign Hills battery will absorb extra solar energy generated during the day and direct it into the grid at times of peak demand.

Essential Energy’s Chief Executive Officer John Cleland said this is expected to provide grid voltage regulation support, stabilise frequency and reduce demand on the network while reducing emissions.

“The network battery trial is critical because energy storage, and batteries in particular, are going to play a key role in enabling the energy transformation,” he said.

“As rooftop solar and other forms of solar proliferate, there will surplus electrons during the middle of the day that will need to be transferred into the evening peak and batteries and other forms of energy storage allow that to happen.”

AGL will operate the Sovereign Hill battery on behalf of Essential Energy.

Image: Essential Energy

Cleland said the Sovereign Hills battery trial will provide learnings that are expected to lead to further deployment of batteries across the Essential Energy network, supporting the energy transition of regional, rural and remote NSW.

“We expect this trial to support our capability growth to own and operate electricity storage across the network, solving local voltage variation, capacity limitations and broaden export capability,” he said. “Our customers have told us that they expect Essential Energy to support their renewable energy ambitions and we are transforming our business to help deliver on that.”

AGL’s General Manager of Commercial and Industrial Customers, Ryan Warburton, said the trial will help the company, which is constructing, commissioning and orchestrating the battery on behalf of Essential Energy, better understand the role of network batteries in enabling greater renewable energy into the grid.

“This trial is an excellent opportunity for us to understand the benefits of a network battery and use that data and insights how we can create value into the future,” he said.

AGL said the asset will also participate in the company’s growing virtual power plant, where customers join a network of connected distributed energy resources that support the electricity system when needed.

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