Neoen and Tesla will build the biggest battery yet for a transmission application as Victoria works toward 50 percent renewable power.
Australia has lots of renewable power, but limited high-voltage power lines to move it around the country. Now it’s tapping a massive battery to help.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) last week awarded a competitive contract to developer Neoen to build the project dubbed the “Victorian Big Battery” along the transmission line connecting the states of Victoria and New South Wales. At 300 megawatts/450 megawatt-hours, this project will eclipse the size of all other grid batteries online today, at least for now.
Besides the eye-catching scale and the fact that Tesla will supply the project with its Megapack battery product, the Victorian Big Battery is notable for what it will do: act like transmission infrastructure.
The battery is set to come online by November 2021, fulfilling a System Integrity Protection Scheme contract with AEMO through 2032. That grid jargon means that the battery will guarantee instantaneous power in case the transmission network suffers an unexpected outage. That assurance should let the grid operator move an extra 250 MW of peak capacity between the states, helping to balance the influx of renewable energy.
“This is a massive signpost that storage will be one of the key transmission assets of the next two decades,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, energy storage director at research firm Wood Mackenzie.
The rest of the time, the battery can bid into Australia’s power markets and make money just like the earlier Neoen and Tesla collaboration, the Hornsdale Power Reserve.
Battery advocates often praise the technology for addressing the under-utilization of power generation resources. Instead of building peaker plants that only run for a few hours each year, the grid can simply store power during hours of surplus production, and discharge that power during hours of peak demand. Batteries could make similar headway in the utilization of transmission infrastructure, which is also built for rare peaks and therefore sits idle much of the time.