BIG BATTERIES – Creating a New Era of Energy for Australia by Alan Williams

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With energy demand at dizzying heights during summer month’s, it’s Victoria’s newly released grid-scale battery that is going to keep the lights on in the state this season.

The Ballarat power station is working towards cleaner energy, and has announced the introduction of this second big battery not long after US tech giant, Tesla, confirmed it’s release of the first big battery recently. This battery – the Ballarat Energy Storage System (BESS) is a 30-megawatt lithium-ion battery is capable of powering more than 200 homes and is
operated by Energy Australia.

“The BESS will be able to respond to changing grid needs within milliseconds and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support critical peak demand,” the Victorian government said.

EnergyAustralia chief executive Cath Tanna explains how the large-scale batteries work; “That’s where utility-scale batteries come into their own by storing wind and solar energy for quick release, keeping the lights on and costs down,” she shares.

The second big battery installation for the state is set to belong to the Gannawarra Solar Farm, and will provide 25 megawatt of storage capacity. A benefit of using big batteries to power homes is that the batteries can keep energy close to the home and keep it running efficiently, making it much less costly than other means of power.

Though, while it may cut costs in the long run, big batteries don’t come at a cheap price. The state’s first big battery which is now in the final stage of testing, has cost a massive 35 million dollars. In an effort to stabilise the grid the battery will also store low-cost renewable energy generation that otherwise may not have been used.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said: “This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system.”

“We’re modernising our electricity grid, strengthening our energy security and delivering real action on climate change.”

Victoria seems to be taking inspiration from it’s neighbouring state, South Australia, who installed a 100 megawatt Telsa battery at Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm last year. The successful installation of this has helped balance their grid and allowed for an increase of variable energy generation in the supple system.

And, if all goes well with Victoria it’s likely that the rest of Australia will follow in theirs and South Australias footsteps. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has signed off on debt finance which allow these to flourish, meaning that companies can get the required liquidity than can help see Australia have more modern methods of energy and rise renewable energy in the future.