State Grid of China, Singapore Power pull out of hybrid renewables and long-duration storage project in Australia

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An energy infrastructure group co-owned by State Grid Corporation of China and Singapore Power has decided not to invest in a hybrid power plant project in South Australia. 

Jemena Group, which operates in the Australian energy market, is 60% owned by State Grid and 40% by Singapore Power. Jemena has decided to focus investment into its existing assets rather than the unregulated energy market, which the Aurora Energy Project would participate in.

The project would include a 140MW/280MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), 70MW of solar PV and a 150MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with long-duration molten silicon thermal energy storage. 

Aurora’s developer, 1414 Degrees, is an Australian tech company which has developed the molten silicon thermal energy storage tech to be used at the site and holds a patent for it, claiming it can be sized to provide tens to thousands of megawatt-hours of storage.

The company’s name come from the temperature (in centigrade) to which the silicon is heated to be able to store energy and output it at “maximum efficiency”. The first prototype was demonstrated in 2016 and the company floated an IPO in 2018.

1414 Degrees owns all rights to the development of Aurora through a subsidiary. The tech company is listed on the Australian Share Exchange (ASX) and made an announcement to the market on 5 April that Ovida Infrastructure, itself a subsidiary of Jemena, has halted investment. 

Nonetheless, 1414 Degrees said it remains focused on the project, near South Australia’s Port Augusta. Development Approval has been granted by authorities for the solar PV, BESS and CSP as well as connection to transmission network operator ElectraNet’s 275kV transmission line. 

The project will be built in phases, with the BESS and solar PV to come first. 1414 Degrees is now working to secure a connection agreement and begin development on an initial 140MW/140MWh of BESS and expects a final investment decision to be made before the end of this year. 

Ovida had signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 1414 Degrees last year, announced to the market in December. Following its change of heart through what 1414 Degrees had been told was a “change in its strategic priorities,” the MoU, which was exclusive, has been terminated and negotiations of final binding agreements called off. 

1414 Degrees said it would be receiving a termination payment worth AU$100,000 (US$74,336) and retains previously made payments from Ovida including an initial AU$300,000 payment. 

“We thank Ovida for the contribution they have made over the past few months with us to further progress the Aurora project. The joint work has only reinforced our belief that Aurora is a world class renewable energy site that is at an advanced stage following several years of investment and approvals,” 1414 Degrees CEO Matt Squire said.

Squire, a former oil and gas industry executive who was hired by the thermal storage company in July 2021, added that development will continue through 1414 Dgrees’ Silicon Aurora subsidiary.

If Aurora does go ahead, it will be connected to Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM), where it can play for multiple merchant revenue sources, including frequency control ancillary services (FCAS), the NEM’s market for frequency regulation.

The first solar-plus-storage stage of its construction will provide renewable energy generation, plus high power frequency regulation services from its short-duration BESS, while the 1414 Degrees thermal energy storage added in stage 2 can provide long-duration, firmed energy which could aim for opportunities with higher electricity prices.

In the third stage, 1414 Degrees wants to fully develop the 1,100 hectare parcel of land — for which it has a 40-year land lease from South Australia’s state government — into a hybrid renewables and storage facility, adding more capacity, including CSP.

In other words, the first stage of the project will target the lower hanging fruit of high revenues from the BESS, monetising the transmission grid connection it will share with the solar PV plant. Then it will target deeper market opportunities as they develop, and 1414 Degrees says it wants its subsidiary to manage and own transmission connections so that it can earn revenues from the multiple assets to be deployed.  

Energy-Storage.news wrote about the project in 2019 as 1414 Degrees bought development rights from US developer SolarReserve for just AU$2 million.

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