Contact teams with Tesla on 200 MWh battery for NZ

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Contact Energy has announced that construction will start immediately on what is one of the country’s first large-scale battery energy storage systems after teaming with Tesla to build a two-hour capacity big battery at Glenbrook in South Auckland.

Electric vehicle and storage manufacturer Tesla will supply its Megapack 2 XL battery technology for the $148 million (USD 100 million) project and will provide commissioning and long-term maintenance services.

The agreement with Tesla also includes an option to expand the capacity of the battery to 130 MW.

Contact Chief Executive Officer Mike Fuge said the Glenbrook battery will play a key role in maintaining a reliable supply of electricity for New Zealand, storing excess renewable electricity in off-peak periods and rapidly discharging it to the grid when it is needed.

“It’s a bit like the Swiss Army knife of the electricity system,” he said. “The battery will supply power to the grid in an instant, quickly getting electricity to where it is most needed in the country.”

“It will also support the development of new renewables like wind and solar generation.”

The battery is being built adjacent to a steel mill owned by New Zealand Steel which has signed a 30 MW renewable energy purchase power agreement with Contact for the supply of electricity for a new electric arc furnace at the Glenbrook site.

Contact said the battery is expected to take up to 18 months to install with commercial operations targeted by March 2026.

The Glenbrook energy storage project is among a small but growing number of big batteries being rolled out across New Zealand.

Electricity distribution company Wel Networks last year commissioned the country’s first utility-scale battery, the 35 MW /3 5 MWh Rotohiko battery at Huntley, about 95 km south of Auckland.

That battery is set to be soon overshadowed with Meridian Energy announcing that it is on track to complete its 100 MW, two-hour battery being built at Ruakākā, about 150 kilometres north of Auckland, later this year.

Batteries on site at Ruakākā.

Image: Meridian Energy

The battery system is the first stage of generator and retailer’s planned Ruakākā Energy Park that is to include a 130 MW solar farm.

In addition to the Ruakākā battery, Meridian is also exploring battery technology at Waiinu, about 60 km south of Auckland, and Bunnythorpe near Palmerston.

Contact said it is also exploring other battery investment opportunities and has been granted consent to build another 100 MW battery near Stratford on the west coast of the North Island.

Author: Ken Braganza

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