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Maoneng gets investment to fast track some of Australia’s biggest battery projects

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Developer Maoneng Group has received equity investment commitment that the company claims will fast track some of Australia’s biggest battery storage projects.

Gaw Capital Partners, a Hong Kong-based real estate equity investment group has entered the renewable energy sector with its undisclosed investment into New South Wales-headquartered Maoneng.

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The pair’s new joint venture (JV), called Gaw Maoneng Renewables (GMR), will speed forward the development of six projects including Maoneng’s Mornington and Gould Creek battery energy storage system (BESS) projects which have already received development approval.

Mornington BESS is a 240MW/480MWh system that will be built in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, a region popular with tourists and therefore seeing big fluctuations in demand for electricity throughout the year.

It received development approval from local authorities early this year, and then in May got grid connection approval, as reported by Energy-Storage.news.

Gould Creek meanwhile is in South Australia, and is almost as big, at a planned 225MW output and 450MWh capacity. It got development approval from the state’s Minister for Planning and Local Government in October 2021.

Both systems will charge up during off-peak times and times of surplus renewable energy generation, discharging to the grid when renewable energy production is lower, demand is higher and therefore electricity prices also higher.

They will play into the National Electricity Market (NEM) and will be able to provide ancillary services through the NEM’s frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) market.

Additionally, Maoneng has three other BESS projects in New South Wales in its development pipeline, for which it said development approval has been applied for, as well as Merriwa Solar Farm, a renewable energy hub comprising 550MWac of solar PV and a 400MW BESS, also in New South Wales.

Again, applications for development approval have been lodged with authorities for Merriwa, while on Maoneng’s side it said it has done necessary grid studies and begun tendering for construction contractors or partners. The company hopes to have Merriwa built and online during 2025.

Meanwhile Mornington BESS is expected to begin construction in Q1 2023, with a completion date in early 2024. Gould Creek could come online after a year-long construction process, which Maoneng hopes will begin this year.  

GMR’s pipeline adds up to a combined 1.9GW and will require an estimated total investment of more than AU$2 billion (US$1.25 billion) to construct, connect and commission.

Australian market riding on market and policy-driven wave

“The transition to renewable energy in Australia is accelerating under this government’s policy, and batteries are a key piece to the puzzle in facilitating higher grid penetration by solar and wind. The partnership allows us to focus on the job and to get it done sooner,” GMR chief executive and managing director Morris Zhou said.

Australia’s large-scale battery storage market appears to be on a big upward trajectory, particularly but not limited to, the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

This has been driven by a combination of the country’s high adoption of renewable energy, its relative lack of interconnectivity of the grid over long distances and latterly by supportive policies at state and now federal government level.

Incidentally, when it was announced, Mornington BESS was Australia’s biggest planned project of its type. That has now been overtaken by the Waratah Super Battery in New South Wales for which key contract awards have been made in the past few days.

Waratah Super Battery’s developer Akaysha Energy intends to build it as a 850MW/1,680MWh asset, including 700MW/1,400MWh that will be contracted for by the state government as a System Protection Integrity Scheme (SIPS) “shock absorber” for the transmission network.

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