Zen Energy charging up first big battery project in SA

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South Australia-headquartered renewable energy retailer Zen Energy has purchased the estimated $200 million (USD 131.7 million) Templers Battery Project from British developer Renewable Energy Systems (RES) as it continues to grow and diversify its generation and customer supply portfolio.

“We are building our first utility-scale battery in South Australia, the state where it all began for Zen,” Zen Energy Chief Executive Officer Anthony Garnaut said.

Zen said the project, being developed near Gawler about 60 kilometres north of Adelaide, has already received approval to connect to the grid, and praised RES for having run an efficient Generation Performance Standards (GPS) approval process in partnership with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and SA transmission company ElectraNet.

“The team at RES did a fantastic job in guiding the project through the last round of approvals that a project like this requires, and our team have been able to hit the ground running,” Garnaut said.

The Templers Battery Project is expected to reach financial close in the coming months with construction planned to commence shortly after. Zen expects the project to take no more than 15 months to complete and is expecting the battery, which will utilise lithium-ion battery cells, to be fully energised and providing services to the grid before the end of 2024.

Once completed, Zen plans to use the battery to support the delivery of energy to its existing SA-based customers, with the battery also expected to perform grid-stability services to the wider National Electricity Market (NEM), paving the way for more renewable energy generation.

Garnaut said the move to add battery energy storage to Zen’s baseload renewables portfolio is consistent with AEMO’s 2022 Electricity Statement of Opportunities update released in February 2023. In that, the market operator said “urgent” investment in long-duration energy storage, generation and transmission is needed to avoid power supply becoming unreliable later this decade as coal power plants close.

”Storage plays a critical role in allowing more renewable energy into the grid,” Garnaut said. “When it is commissioned in late 2024, the Templers battery will have the most storage capacity of the batteries in South Australia, and it will quickly be followed by bigger batteries supported by ZEN and others.”

“At the rate we’re going, South Australia will be 100% well before 2030, enabling the revitalisation of core industries and for Australia to evolve into a renewable energy superpower.”

The Templers Battery Project is just one of the renewable energy assets Zen is developing as it looks to grow its generation portfolio to supply customers through long-term, fixed price retail contracts.

The company, which has offtake agreements in place with 20 solar and wind farms, including the 132 MW Nevertire, the 56 MW Moree and the 120 MW Hillston solar farm in New South Wales, is also pursuing plans to develop a large-scale hybrid solar and battery project between Burra and Morgan in SA’s mid-north.

Zen said the Solar River project will be nominally 230 MWdc and the battery will be at least 100 MW with three hours of capacity. The project will connect to the ElectraNet network via a new 275 kV switchyard located outside of Robertstown.

Zen said the project has been issued a development approval and the company is now working through the final stages of a grid connection application process. Construction is expected to commence later this year and renewable energy from this project will be delivered to the NEM in 2024.

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