AGL breaks ground on 250MW Torrens Island battery project in South Australia

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Rendering of the Torrens Island BESS project, due for completion early in 2023 and capable of expansion from its initial 250MWh configuration to 1,000MWh at a later date. Image: AGL.

Australian power retail and generation company AGL has broken ground on a 250MW / 250MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) project in South Australia. 

The company said today that preparations have begun at the site of Torrens Island Power Station, so that construction can begin on the AU$180 million (US$128.51 million) project. It will be AGL’s first in a planned 850MW portfolio of grid-scale BESS projects that it intends to deploy to participate in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) by the 2024 financial year. 

In August, Finnish energy technology company Wärtsilä was announced as BESS supplier for Torrens Island. Although the initial duration of the battery system will be one-hour (250MWh), there is scope for it to be eventually expanded to four-hours (1,000MWh) if market conditions make the longer duration system economically desirable. 

AGL signed up Wärtsilä and fellow BESS technology provider Fluence as preferred suppliers for up to 1GW of energy storage near the beginning of this year, following a competitive solicitation process

Last week, reported that another project in that 850MW AGL plan had been granted planning approval by local government in the Australian state of Victoria, a 200MW / 800MWh BESS. AGL is now examining the feasibility of that project in depth before deciding whether to go ahead. Like the Torrens Island project and others in AGL’s roll-out, that one would be situated at one of the company’s existing fossil fuel generation sites. 

AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof said of that one, at the Loy Yang coal power station site in Victoria, that his company’s generation sites offer “rare and unique redevelopment opportunities,” given that they have existing logistical and land use advantages. They would be transformed into “integrated industrial energy hubs,” Brokhof said. 

Today, Brokhof said the low-carbon Torrens Island Energy Hub “will bring together various industry sectors and a combination of technologies to deliver South Australia’s energy future, and this battery is the first step toward that goal,” with South Australia the country’s leader among states in renewable energy generation capacity so far.

The Torrens Island project has been supported by the state’s government, which helped to fast-track its development. It’s just over a year since the project was first unveiled by AGL. South Australia is targeting net-100% renewable energy generation by 2030. State deputy premier Dan Van Holst Pellekaan, who is also its minister for mining and energy, said today it was an “important project to accelerate South Australia’s transition to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy”.

“It’s great to see AGL investing in new storage assets to add further stability to our electricity grid,” van Holst Pellekaan said. 

The project is expected to be operational by early 2023. AGL is planning a demerger of its generation and retail utility businesses next year. While the Loy Yang BESS is expected to go into the portfolio of generation business Accel Energy, Torrens Island will be part of AGL Australia’s, the retail business.  

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