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Planning approval granted in Western Australia for state’s flagship 2GWh battery storage project

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State government-owned energy company Synergy has received planning approval for its 500MW/2,000MWh Collie Battery Energy Storage System (CBESS) project in Western Australia.

Located at the site of Collie Power Station, a coal-fired power plant scheduled for decommissioning in 2027, the battery storage project is one of two being funded with AU$2.3 billion (US$1.52 billion) from the Western Australia State Budget 2023-2024.

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The state’s Regional Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) recommended at the end of November that the project application be approved subject to conditions, finding that it was consistent with objectives of local land zoning. The proposal would also not jeopardise future development prospects for the region, and potential impacts would be adequately managed, the JDAP determined.

The 340MW Collie Power Station is the single biggest generator in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), Western Australia’s main electricity grid. Isolated geographically and electrically from Australia’s other main networks, renewables with energy storage have been identified as the best means to maintain electricity supply reliability as coal retires.

The Collie site itself was identified as an ideal spot to host large-scale battery storage due to its existing transmission network infrastructure and local workforce with relevant electrical industry skills.

Synergy already owns the brownfield site, around 200km from Western Australia’s capital Perth.  Subsidiary Synergy Renewable Energy Development (SynergyRED) will deliver the asset, which will have an expected lifetime of 30 years. Commissioning is expected by October 2025.

Western Australia could need 17GW/96GWh of storage by 2050

In September, Western Australia’s government announced the award of supply contracts for Synergy’s Collie BESS and 200MW/800MWh Kwinana 2 BESS projects.

China-headquartered CATL, currently the world’s largest lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturer, will supply its EnerC containerised lithium iron phosphate (LFP) BESS solution to both projects, while Spanish company Power Electronics will supply inverters and power conversion system (PCS) equipment.

Synergy began construction on Kwinana 2 in the middle of this year, located at its former Kwinana Power Station site in southern Perth. Kwinana 2 follows on from the 100MW/200MWh Kwinana Battery Energy Storage System 1 (Kwinana BESS 1) which entered its commissioning phase earlier this year.

SynergyRED said that the Collie BESS project could later be expanded to 1,000MW/4,000MWh if market forces make that viable.

French renewable and energy storage developer-independent power producer (IPP) Neoen has proposed its own large-scale BESS project for the Collie region, which would be an initial 200MW/800MWh but could also rise to 1,000MW/4,000MWh.

While most development activity of large-scale BESS in Australia has focused on the National Electricity Market (NEM) which covers the majority of eastern and southern states, as a grid without interconnection to others, the SWIS need for battery storage is perhaps even more urgent.

Modelling from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) found that Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) – the SWIS equivalent to the NEM – requires about 12GW-17GW/74GW/96GWh of energy storage by 2050 to meet national and state goals on renewable energy and climate.

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