Western Australia: 800MWh BESS & graphite project feasibility studies progress

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Renewable energy developer ZEN Energy has taken on responsibility for a 600-800MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) project in Western Australia while the regional government is funding a downstream graphite facility project for battery applications at the same location.

ZEN Energy is looking into the feasibility and potential delivery of the BESS project announced earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a downstream graphite processing facility in the same region is being explored by International Graphite (IG), an Australia-listed integrated mining and downstream graphite company, with funding from the local government. Both announcements were contained in an ASX announcement by IG today (April 26).

Western Australia to get its own ‘big battery’

Earlier this month, the Government of Western Australia announced it was providing AU$1 million (US$0.72 million) to Sunshot Energy for the first stage of a feasibility study into the Collie Battery and Hydrogen Industrial Hub Project, which would include the large-scale BESS.

ZEN Energy has now taken on the responsibility and funding for the feasibility study and potential delivery of the BESS project, which would have 200MW of power and between 600 and 800MWh of energy. Sunshot is an affiliate company of ZEN with common ownership and management and the two will consolidate into one organisation in June this year.

The BESS project has been labelled a ‘big battery’ by ZEN in a possible nod to the largest operational BESS in Australia, the 300MW/450MWh Victorian Big Battery on the other side of the country, which went online in December 2021. The largest project in development in the country is a 2GWh BESS in New South Wales, approved last month.

ZEN said its BESS would help manage wholesale market risk by supplying renewable energy to new and existing industrial projects in Collie. It would be a key feature in the Collie Battery and Hydrogen Industrial Hub Project, the company said. Collie is a region with substantial coal mining and energy industry activity.

That wider Hub project is the centrepiece in the regional government’s AU$100 million strategy to create a major renewable energy centre in Collie and transition the local economy away from coal. A government statement said that the project, if it goes ahead, would create AU$730 million of new investment, 500 construction jobs and 400 long-term ones.

Downstream graphite facilities for battery applications

ZEN Energy has also signed a non-binding MOU with IG to secure future agreements to supply energy to IG for the downstream graphite processing facilities it is developing in Collie. Graphite is used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries in the case of both nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistries.

IG is developing a facility to conduct pilot testing of graphite concentrates for purification and spheroidising of graphite for battery anode material (BAM) applications, as well as to produce micronised graphite. IG has been awarded AU$2 million towards the establishment of the micronising plant by the Western Australia government.

The company said that a shallow graphite deposit in Springdale on the south coast of Western Australia could feed the downstream processing activities at Collie (pictured above).

ZEN Energy, which stands for Zero Emissions Now, currently serves the electricity needs of various government and private sector organisations across Australia. Its major shareholder is leading climate change economist professor Ross Garnaut.

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