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EnergyAustralia considering 500MW battery project in New South Wales

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Major Australian energy generator-retailer EnergyAustralia is tentatively planning to build a 500MW battery energy storage system (BESS) on land it owns in New South Wales.

The company, said today it is investigating the feasibility of putting a grid-scale battery system with up to half a gigawatt of output at Mount Piper, a 1,400MW black coal-fired power plant in its portfolio.

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As with similar projects of its type announced in Australia and around the world, siting the BESS at or adjacent to an existing grid-connected power generation asset will allow for the use of existing infrastructure, such as substations, and overhead wires, reducing the cost of construction and commissioning.

EnergyAustralia said further assessments and consultation with local communities will now go ahead, with the company seeking approval for the Mount Piper BESS through New South Wales’ planning process.

The company expects that if the project successfully goes through that process, it could be up and running by the end of 2026. EnergyAustralia did not give a figure for the expected or likely megawatt-hour capacity of the asset in a press release.

EnergyAustralia, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-headquartered China Light & Power, has a portfolio of energy resources that includes gas peaker plants, coal and a 66MW wind farm as well as two of Australia’s first large-scale battery storage projects, Gannawarra and Ballarat.

Both of those battery projects were completed in 2018 in the state of Victoria, and as reported by Energy-Storage.news, their first year in operation provided important data and proof points of how BESS assets could successfully participate in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).

Other projects the company already has in development include a 350MW, four-hour duration (1,400MWh) in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Like Mount Piper, EnergyAustralia has elected to build that project, called Wooreen Energy Storage System, on the site of one of its existing power plants, in that case the company’s gas-fired Jeeralang power plant.

EnergyAustralia revealed its plans for Wooreen in 2021, noting that its addition to the local grid will ease the retirement of Yallourn, another 1,400MW coal power plant. Not only is the generator-retailer (gentailer) targeting carbon neutrality by 2050, but it is also paying hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain and run the Yallourn power station, providing added impetus to take it out of service.

A couple of months ago, the NSW government Department of Planning and Environment gave planning approval to a 500MW/1,000MWh BESS project proposed by developer Greenspot at the site of Wallerang, another EnergyAustralia coal power plant which was retired in 2014.

“The project would support future energy security in New South Wales as coal generation retires and more renewables enter the system,” EnergyAustralia head of portfolio development Daniel Nugent said of the Mount Piper plan.

“The BESS would be a welcome addition to the state’s growing list of big clean energy storage projects. If approved, it will also provide an economic boost to the Central West region and help to transform it into a renewable energy hub.”

As reported by our colleagues over at PV Tech recently, New South Wales is targeting the deployment of 12GW of renewable energy by 2030 as well as 2GW of long-duration energy storage, opening a bi-annual tender process in August.

The state is developing five large Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) multi-technology hubs, attracting strong interest from developers and investors.

In July this year, transmission operator Transgrid said that studies had shown grid-scale battery storage to be its preferred option for ensuring reliable electricity supplies in New South Wales’ regions, choosing from a range of considered options and highlighting potential “billions of dollars” in benefits from doing so.

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