New Zealand welcomes first big battery to national grid


New Zealand’s first utility-scale battery energy storage system has commenced operation with electricity distribution company WEL Networks confirming that its 35 MW/35 MWh Rotohiko battery facility has completed testing and commissioning.

The 35 MWh Rotohiko battery energy storage system (BESS), at Huntley in the Waikato region on the upper North Island, is the first of its scale to commence operations in New Zealand.

Wel said the grid-connected facility, which includes 16 battery modules, eight inverters and four transformers, will deliver strengthened reliability of electricity supply for Waikato customers and will benefit the national grid through its ability to help correct supply and demand imbalances.

The battery is connected to WEL’s 33 kV local lines network but is capable of providing fast reserve support for the North Island grid at times of high demand, enhancing grid stability and resilience and allowing for more renewable energy generation to be connected to the grid.

WEL said the Rotohiko battery, which will store enough energy to meet the daily demands of more than 2,000 homes, will participate in the electricity market providing instantaneous reserves and undertaking energy trading.

“The 35MWh BESS is the first battery of its scale in New Zealand and something we’re very proud of,” WEL said. “It will deliver huge benefits by improving the resilience of the electricity system, while also increasing the value of intermittent renewable generation in the region.”

Transpower New Zealand, the state-owned operator of the national grid, said the battery will play a pivotal role in the reduction of emissions in the Waikato and will move the nation closer to its goal of becoming 100% renewable by 2030.

“We see the Rotohiko battery as a milestone achievement by WEL, and we look forward to working with industry over the years to come to connect more batteries and other flexible resources to the power system to realise New Zealand’s renewable future,” Transpower said.

While the Rotohiko battery is the largest of its kind currently operating in New Zealand, it will soon be overshadowed by the 100 MW / 200 MWh Ruakākā BESS being constructed by Meridian Energy about 150 kilometres north of Auckland.

Renewables developer Meridian has already commenced construction of the battery with project completion expected in the second half of 2024. The BESS project is stage one of a two-stage project that anticipates the future construction of a 130 MW solar farm.

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