The Energy Storage Report 2024

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Fluence starts work in Australia on 300MW grid-forming battery project with advanced inverters


Origin Energy has issued a Notice to Proceed to Fluence for a battery storage project in Australia, which will provide inertia services via the system’s advanced inverter equipment.

Fluence, an energy storage technology provider and system integrator, received the instruction from customer Origin Energy last week on the 300MW output, 650MWh capacity battery energy storage system (BESS).

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Sited adjacent to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listed energy generator-retailer’s (gentailer’s) gas-fired peaker power plant at Mortlake, Victoria, the asset will charge from the grid at off-peak times of abundant renewable energy generation and output it as required when demand peaks.

Its location will allow it to leverage new clean energy generation facilities being developed in Victoria’s state-designated South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) V4 region, in which it also sits. That will be one of six REZ developments in the state planned so far. Battery storage is expected to play an important role in enabling REZ developments to maximise their usable energy output.

Origin Energy made the decision to go ahead with the project a month ago when it committed to investing AU$400 million (US$263.7 million) into it and announced the appointment of Fluence as BESS technology supplier. Fluence’s Nispera asset management software will optimise its market participation.

Advanced inverter trend emerging

At the same time, the battery storage system, via its inverters, will join a growing fleet of BESS around Australia – and the world – that provide system stability services, most prominently inertia.

The Mortlake Battery project will receive up to AU$24 million towards its total costs from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to enable that function.

It is one of eight such projects, adding up to 4.2GWh of capacity, that ARENA has selected for support through its Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round, which opened in 2022.

The competitive solicitation process was originally set to provide up to AU$100 million in total, but given high interest in the scheme, a total of AU$176 million was made available. It also follows ARENA’s commitment of AU$81 million to another eight large-scale BESS projects prior to the funding round, including two that are similarly equipped with grid-forming inverters.

ARENA said yesterday (28 February) that of the eight projects selected alongside Mortlake, five have been financially committed.

As can be seen below, the inverters will be supplied to those five projects from three different manufacturers: Tesla, Power Electronics, and SMA, the supplier to Origin’s Mortlake project. Links have been included to recent coverage of each project where applicable.

ProjectEntityOutput/Capacity Inverter OEM
Western Downs BESSNeoen255MW/510MWhTesla
Blyth BESSNeoen200MW/400MWhPower Electronics
Victorian Big Battery (retrofit)Neoen300MW/450MWhTesla
Liddell BESSAGL500MW/1,000MWhPower Electronics
Mortlake BatteryOrigin300MW/650MWhSMA

The concepts behind providing inertia – traditionally an application done by fossil fuel and other thermal generators – using so-called grid-forming inverters were explained by then-SMA product manager Blair Reynolds in an Guest Blog published in 2022.

Last week, Premium covered in-depth a project in Scotland, UK, which will perform a similar set of system stability applications.

Wärtsilä Energy Storage & Optimisation (ES&O) is the system integrator on that 300MW/600MWh project, in Kilmarnock South, for developer-investor Zenobe Energy.

Much like the ARENA-supported projects in Australia, Kilmarnock South’s advanced inverter aspect is being supported financially, having been selected as one of the electricity system operator National Grid ESO’s Stability Pathfinder projects, as has another of Zenobe’s Scottish BESS projects, Black Hillock.

Other projects around the world equipped to provide this function, sometimes called ‘synthetic inertia’ include Hawaii’s biggest battery storage project, inaugurated a few months back by US developer Plus Power.

It looks set to be a technology trend to watch in the industry as 2024 plays out and the retirement of thermal generation proceeds in tandem with the massive growth of renewables.’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Australia, on 21-22 May 2024 in Sydney, NSW. Featuring a packed programme of panels, presentations and fireside chats from industry leaders focusing on accelerating the market for energy storage across the country. For more information, go to the website.

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