Big batteries reach new high as generation investment slows


New data from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) shows $2 billion (USD 1.29 billion) worth of large-scale energy storage and hybrid projects reached the financial commitment stage in the three months to the end of June 2023, with six projects totalling 1497 MW/3802 MWh added across Australia.

While energy storage investment reached a record high, the spend on generation projects has had its slowest first half of the year since the CEC began tracking project data in 2017.

Only four generation projects, totalling a combined investment value of $225 million, reached financial commitment in the April-June period. The four projects, the largest among them Octopus Australia’s 175 MW solar and 400 MWh battery project in Queensland’s Western Downs region, total 348 MW of generation capacity.

While this result was an improvement on the first quarter, when only one large-scale generation project reached financial commitment, the CEC’s latest renewable projects quarterly report shows investment levels this year are 50% below the rolling 12-month quarterly average of 699 MW and well adrift of what is required to reach Australia’s 2030 renewable energy goals.

Financially committed generation projects and capacity, quarterly

Image: CEC

​CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton said there is strong political support for the clean energy transition but under investment in transmission, grid connection challenges, inconsistent planning policies, and constraints in supply chains and workforce are all barriers for renewables investors and developers.

​“These challenges make final investment decisions for large-scale renewables projects more difficult,” he said.

“There is an enormous pipeline of renewable energy projects in Australia, but investors are swamped with global opportunity at a time where these barriers make Australian projects less attractive.”

​Thornton said the development needed to achieve 82% renewable generation by 2030 “is not guaranteed unless we target the obstacles currently creating investment uncertainty for new energy generation.”

Total capacity of generation projects by development status, quarterly

Image: CEC

Despite the slowdown in investments in generation projects, construction activity remains strong with four generation projects commencing construction during the quarter.

The projects, including Zenith Energy’s 88 MW wind, solar and storage project being built at Bellevue Gold’s mining operation in Western Australia, will deliver nearly 1.2 GW of generation capacity.

Nine generation and storage projects reached the final commissioning stage in the quarter. The five generation projects, including Greek resources and renewables company Mytilineos’ 110 MWp Moura Solar Farm in central Queensland, contributed a total of 551 MW of generation capacity.

The storage projects, which include the 150 MW/150 MWh Hazelwood big battery developed in Victoria by French energy giant Engie, and its partners Eku Energy and Fluence, provided an additional was 305 MW/460 MWh worth of energy storage.

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