Victoria's second big battery powers up in Gannawarra

Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Victoria's second big battery powers up in Gannawarra

The second of two grid-scale batteries has been completed in Gannawarra and began exporting electricity to the grid in October. It will be commissioned in time for summer, when temperatures rise and demand for electricity increases.

Co-located at the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, the 25 MW/50 MWh Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) is the largest integrated solar and battery facility in Australia, and will be able to provide solar energy at night.

Both the Gannawarra and the Ballarat battery, which was unveiled last month, aim to help ease constraints on transmission lines and balance the grid with higher shares of renewable energy. GESS is capable of powering more than 16,000 homes through two hours of peak demand before being recharged.

These grid-connected, utility-scale batteries were jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Victorian Government, with both committing $25 million to the projects in March.

“Grid-scale batteries have the ability to provide rapid response injections of power and provide back-up power when needed,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“Integrating with the local solar farm provides potential for solar energy to be stored and used at night, helping to deliver secure and reliable electricity when it is needed.

“ARENA is excited about the completion of both batteries in Victoria which — along with the successful large-scale batteries in South Australia — will continue to play an important role in Australia’s transition to affordable and reliable renewable energy.”

The development and construction of GESS, which uses Tesla’s lithium-ion battery technology, was overseen by Australian renewable energy company Edify Energy in a joint venture with Wirsol Energy.

The project is an example of retrofitting a solar farm with a battery, and it could provide a new commercial model for other renewable and storage facilities in Australia.

“Solar plus storage is a ‘category killer’,” according to Edify Energy CEO John Cole. He sees this project being a win for Victorian and Australian energy consumers, and said “we are very proud to have developed, structured and overseen the construction of two projects that together can serve as a model for wider adoption of storage into the market and the realisation of a high renewable future”.

EnergyAustralia will operate GESS in addition to a long-term offtake agreement to buy all the electricity generated from the co-located Gannawarra Solar Farm.

“The ability to store and quickly release energy will help integrate renewables in the system as coal-fired plants progressively retire,” said EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna. “These are the new technologies and approaches that will come to underpin our energy system, keeping customers’ lights on and their costs down.”

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