Approved: First BESS to share existing generator grid connection in Australia’s NEM


Approval has been granted in Australia for the first battery storage project that will share a grid connection point with an existing generation asset in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Developer CWP Renewables announced this morning that it has received approval for the performance standards for its proposed 30MW/30MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) to be connected at the site of a wind farm in New South Wales (NSW).  

CWP Renewables’ Sapphire BESS project will be co-located at the company’s 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm in the New England region of northern New South Wales. The largest wind farm in the state, its main off-taker is the state government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) along with corporates like Nestle and Fujitsu.

The BESS will charge up with surplus energy generated by the wind farm as well as from the grid at off-peak times, outputting at times of low generation and high demand. The fast-responding battery asset will also participate in frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) markets and other revenue opportunities in the NEM.

“The transition to renewable energy requires the likes of firming projects such as Sapphire Battery, which can help smooth out the variability of wind and solar generation,” CWP Renewables CEO Jason Willoughby said.

“We have agreements with a large range of corporate customers who want to source firmed renewable energy to match their usage and this project brings us another step closer.”  

Approval of grid connection performance standards was granted by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which oversees the NEM, and grid operator TransGrid.

CWP claimed Sapphire BESS is the first project under AEMO’s National Electricity Rules to get its approval, which was applied for under the rules’ Clause 5.3.9, which is the procedure to be followed by generators seeking to alter an existing generating system.

Willoughby said that getting connection approval was a “technically challenging” process, but that CWP was able to get through it with the collaborative assistance of AEMO, TransGrid, wind operations contractor Vestas and TransGrid’s commercial project services arm Lumea.

The project is being supported by the NSW government’s Emerging Energy programme, which set aside AU$75 million (US$51 million) grant funding for dispatchable electricity projects. As such, learnings from it will be shared to further the advancement of battery storage in the state.

Other projects awarded funding through the programme include one of Australia’s largest solar-plus-storage power plants to date, also in New England. Construction began in 2021 on New England Solar Farm near Uralla, which will pair 720MW of solar PV with a 50MW/50MWh BESS, with further details given in a progress update offered in March this year.

CWP Renewables has approval for another NSW BESS project at a wind farm, this time a 150MW battery storage system for connection at Uungula, a 414MW wind site.

The company said Sapphire BESS will be operational in 2024 and construction will begin early next year pending financial close. Planning approval has been given.’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Asia, 11-12 July 2023 in Singapore. The event will help give clarity on this nascent, yet quickly growing market, bringing together a community of credible independent generators, policymakers, banks, funds, off-takers and technology providers. For more information, go to the website.

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