BlackRock-acquired developer awarded 1.4GWh ‘Super Battery’ contract in New South Wales

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Developer Akaysha Energy has been selected for the Waratah Super Battery project in New South Wales, Australia, with Powin Energy as key equipment supplier.

The flagship project is a key component of the New South Wales (NSW) energy transition strategy. It is being supported by the state government’s recently announced 2022-2023 budget and its commitment to fast-tracking transmission system buildout and upgrades to accommodate renewable energy growth.

As such, state corporation EnergyCo NSW is finalising contract awards to work on the 700MW/1,400MWh battery energy storage system (BESS). Last week high voltage transmission system operator and manager Transgrid was appointed to upgrade necessary infrastructure to connect the project to the grid and Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).

This morning, Akaysha Energy said that it and its partners have been successful in the competitive solicitation and selected by EnergyCo NSW to develop the Waratah Super Battery – the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest BESS project announced to date.

As noted in Energy-Storage.news’ coverage of the project already, the NSW government declared the Super Battery to be a Critical State Significant Infrastructure project and opened it up to tender. It is aimed to go online before or around the time that Eraring, a coal power plant in New South Wales, is retired in August 2025.

It will operate as part of a System Protection Integrity Scheme (SIPS), meaning that as well as increasing the usable capacity of the transmission network to accommodate new renewable energy, it will be available to help protect the grid in the event of power surges by buffering the network from events like bushfires and lightning strikes.

“This project will be the first in a wave of ‘Gigawatt-class’ BESS projects across the National Electricity Market and will play a critical role in the energy transition by unlocking many gigawatts of new renewable capacity,” Akaysha Energy managing director Nick Carter said.

Actual Super Battery sizing to be even bigger

The battery system will be contracted to ensure the nameplate output of 700MW and capacity of 1,400MWh are available under Akaysha Energy’s Service Provider contract with EnergyCo NSW.

However, the developer said today that the sizing of the BESS will likely be larger than that, at 850MW/1,680MWh, enabling the asset to go into other markets and tap separate revenue opportunities with the additional capacity.

Akaysha said it anticipates playing into markets for trading energy through charging up at off-peak times and then discharging into the grid at peak times when it is more valuable.

Regular readers of this site may remember that BlackRock Real Assets, a real estate and infrastructure investment arm of the major investment management firm, acquired Akaysha Power earlier this year.

The acquisition came with a commitment to investing a billion Australian Dollars into Akaysha’s development of battery storage assets in Australia, as reported by Energy-Storage.news in mid-August. The developer was bought by a fund managed through BlackRock Alternatives’ Climate Infrastructure team.

Later that month, US-headquartered battery storage system integrator and manufacturer Powin Energy signalled its entry into the Australia market through forming its partnership with Akaysha.

Powin Energy and Akaysha signed a 1.7GWh BESS supply deal at that time. In addition to Waratah Super Battery, Akaysha is known to be developing eight other projects, with the total nine-project pipeline adding up to about 1GW of output and 3GWh of capacity.

Powin Energy will supply battery hardware in the form of the company’s Centipede BESS platform. The company released the platform a few months ago and it allows multiple units of the Powin BESS Stack to be configured up to very large megawatt-hour, or even in this case, gigawatt-hour scale.  Powin’s Stack OS software will also be deployed as the Super Battery’s control system.

In the Akaysha-led winning consortium together with Powin is engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partner Consolidated Power Projects Australia (CPP), which will carry out site works, BESS installation, and all electrical works like high voltage (HV) connections.

Meanwhile EKS Energy, the power electronics company recently bought by Powin Energy, will supply the site’s power conversion system (PCS) technology. In a recent interview with this site, Powin Energy executive VP Danny Lu discussed the strategy and reasons behind that acquisition.

“By investing in the development of the Waratah Super Battery, we will help to deliver greater grid resilience to ensure more Australians have access to reliable energy sources and support Australia’s orderly energy transition,” BlackRock co-head of climate infrastructure in the APAC region, Charlie Reid, said.

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