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Waratah Super Battery developer to begin construction on 150MW/300MWh Queensland BESS project

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Renewable energy and energy storage developer Akaysha Energy will soon begin construction on a 150MW/300MWh battery storage project in Queensland, Australia.  

The company, backed by a real estate and infrastructure arm of investment giant Blackrock, is behind Australia’s biggest battery energy storage system (BESS) project under construction to date, the 850MW/1,650MWh Waratah Super Battery in New South Wales (NSW).

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Akaysha Energy said this week that once it has made a Final Investment Decision (FiD) and appointed key contractors for its Ulinda Park project, construction at the site will begin next month.

The company is building the project to support the rapid expansion of solar PV and wind generation capacity in the Western Downs region of Queensland, and received approval from local authorities last year. Representing a planned first phase of development, Akaysha Energy announced what it claimed was a “first of its kind” revenue swap deal for Ulinda Park with renewable energy revenue risk manager Re2 in July.

Swap deal to add revenue certainty

Re2 provides backing for power purchase agreements (PPAs), tolling agreements and other revenue hedging for renewables and storage. Under the terms of its ten-year risk hedging deal, Re2 provides contracted revenues to Akaysha Power, while the developer will be able to operate the BESS and play into National Electricity Market (NEM) opportunities for frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and energy trading.   

“The revenue swap product that we have developed with Re2 is exactly the sort of innovative offtake product that we need in the market right now to help accelerate the build-out of large-scale battery projects like the Ulinda Park BESS,” Akaysha Energy CEO and president Nick Carter said at the time the deal was announced.

Carter also noted on business networking site LinkedIn that the Queensland project was the first battery storage project worked on by the company, which emerged from stealth mode in 2022 with Blackrock pledging to invest AU$1 billion (US$640 million) into the developer.

Akaysha is developing the project in partnership with Brisbane-headquartered developer Renewable Energy Partners, which has a claimed development portfolio that includes more than 3GW of renewables and over 24GWh of energy storage, including pumped hydro.

The BESS supplier will be US manufacturer and system integrator Powin Energy. Powin entered a partnership with Akaysha last year to deploy more than 1.7GWh of systems over a two-year period. That deal was Powin’s first entry into the Australian market and was cemented with the announcement of the Waratah Super Battery, now under construction.

Grid edge investment

Powin leadership told Energy-Storage.news last year, as the integrator bought Spanish inverter and power conversion system (PCS) Eks Energy, that its acquisition was largely motivated by Eks’ experience in working on projects in weak grid or grid edge locations, and knowledge of adapting projects to different grid codes.

Powin executive VP Danny Lu told the site that this was with particular regard to meeting Australia’s stringent grid codes ahead of beginning work at the Waratah Super Battery project. Powin has just sold Eks Energy on to Hitachi Energy, although the US integrator is said to be retaining a significant stake in the PCS maker and will partner with Hitachi Energy on developing integrated BESS solutions.

Carter also said that a balance of plant (BOP) contract has just been signed for Ulinda Park Phase 1 with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partners Consolidated Power Projects. Wilson Transformer Company will provide high voltage and medium voltage works, while it will connect to existing transmission lines managed by network operator Powerlink.

“The Waratah Super Battery gets a lot of the attention [and] headlines, but the unsung heroes of the Akaysha Energy battery portfolio will become Ulinda Park BESS and the other large battery developments that are rapidly marching towards FiD across the NEM, accelerating the energy transition,” Carter wrote on LinkedIn, perhaps in reference to the fact that while the Super Battery’s business case will be underpinned by a 700MW/1,400MWh system integrity protection scheme (SIPS) contract to help maintain reliable operation of the grid, those other BESS resources will operate as more merchant assets.

Both Ulinda Park in Queensland and Waratah Super Battery in NSW are scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2025.

In September, Akaysha Energy entered a partnership with Japanese conglomerate Itochu Corporation to work together on large-scale BESS projects in Japan, as well as in overseas territories including Australia, although the partnership was not explicitly referred to in updates this week from the developer.

Elsewhere, Blackrock acquired US energy storage developer Jupiter Power in late 2022.

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