26 July 2022

Big Canberra Battery Project charges ahead with $850k funding boost

| Lottie Twyford
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Solar farm

The ACT Government says the first phase of its Big Canberra Battery Project will be able to deliver at least 250 megawatts of new large-scale battery storage capacity across the ACT. Photo: Mugga Lane Solar Park.

The upcoming Territory Budget will allocate $850,000 to keep the $100 million Big Canberra Battery Project on track.

The much-touted project will be delivered in three “streams”, with the first phase to deliver a massive 250-megawatt battery (or perhaps batteries).

Construction is expected to start on that facility late next year.

Following an expression of interest process which closed in February this year, the government will go out to tender to selected companies next month.

It’s anticipated this large battery – much like the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia – will need a site of up to two hectares.

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The government will next month also go out to tender for a second stream of the project – 14 batteries to be installed at government sites such as schools in Fyshwick, Gungahlin, Belconnen, Chifley, Greenway, Kambah and Stromlo. Each of these batteries is small – up to one megawatt each.

The government says the second stream will not only reduce power used in government buildings but reduce the strain on the distribution network.

A final phase, which is still in the process of policy development, will deliver neighbourhood-scale batteries. These will likely sit in a park, for example, and will be used to soak up power in areas with lots of rooftop solar.

Once completed, the entire battery ecosystem will be able to provide power for around one-third of the ACT.

Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the future is all-electric. Photo: ACT ESA.

The large battery will be managed under a revenue-sharing arrangement where the government pays a fixed annual sum in exchange for a fixed percentage share of total project revenue from the provider.

The provider is, in turn, responsible for the facility’s control, management, operation and maintenance.

It’s hoped this will give the project more certainty and security.

The smaller batteries for stream two will likely be purchased from local companies.

Construction is already underway on large-scale batteries – one being built by Neoen in Beard and one by Global Power Generation in Queanbeyan.

These were previously announced following a reverse auction process.

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The funding builds on the $100 million over five years allocated in the 2020-21 budget to the Big Canberra Battery Project.

According to the government, the project will increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the electricity grid.

It also forms a central part of the government’s climate change strategy and target of net-zero emissions by 2045.

Last week, the Territory government outlined a range of electric incentives, including the phase-out of internal combustion engine vehicles from 2035 onwards and a major overhaul of the car registration system from one based on weight to emissions instead.

Stamp duty exemptions on new electric vehicles will also be extended to second-hand electric cars and the government will make changes to planning rules to increase the prevalence of EV chargers around town.

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As he unveiled the ACT’s full zero emissions vehicles strategy last Wednesday (20 July), Chief Minister Andrew Barr acknowledged an all-electric city would put pressure on the existing grid.

“[This issue] is the subject of work at the territory and national level,” he said.

“There are billions of dollars being invested in this. Bottom line is there will need to be, and there will be, more investment in our energy network.

“More batteries, more storage opportunities.”

Mr Barr said this would include large-scale government projects, batteries rolled out in government institutions like schools and community batteries, as well as individual household batteries.

The Chief Minister will hand down the Territory’s Budget on Tuesday, 2 August.

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I don’t understand why the comments below are so negative. I’m elated that the ACT govt is doing this and actually quite proud to live here.

Coal power is on its death bed in this country. That’s a fact. Renewables investment is pretty much unstoppable. Even King Canute would have to see the writing on the wall. REZs are under tender / reverse auction and construction everywhere in most jurisdictions here. The Australian govt is about to reinforce that momentum with a bill now before fed parliament on new targets. All this means we need dispatchable power ie batteries to cover sun/wind lulls.

Either you get on the front foot with this and engage local production in places like Beard and Fyshwick or you sink into irrelevance and passivity. Personally I’m happy to see the work being done here and I note that sovereign capability is something we have been talking a lot about. Maybe they should even look at the recent Finnish hot sand battery innovation which sounds potentially very cheap.

Capital Retro7:38 am 28 Jul 22

Well, Tim Flannery’s Geodynamics thermal heat capture in SA sounded potentially cheap and it cost taxpayers via the Rudd government at least $90 million in grants.

A “Finnish hot sand battery innovation” sound vaguely the same.

Goodness, strong words – sounds like you may have had a bad experience in a Finnish sauna CR! The sand batteries idea has been around for a while. A couple of FInnish engineers – young, optimistic, pragmatic [weird eh?] – managed to get some up an running. We’re a long from proof of concept but the idea is simple and worth looking at.

Ha ha ha ha yet people still vote Greens! ?

The next major bush fire and the fire trucks wont be in Duffy, they’ll be out protecting this stupid chemical disaster waiting to happen.

If solar is the answer then where is the national DC grid? The earth has a constant supply of power from the sun, the issue is transport not storage.

Bring on solid state batteries!

Capital Retro11:55 am 27 Jul 22

You mean solid Territory batteries, don’t you?

Some perspective on the battery. I am assuming that it is a 250 MWh storage capacity. This would be capable of supplying all the estimated 100,000 Canberra households for approximately 1 day in winter if all other uses of electricity such as all the buildings, street lights, traffic lights and everything else other than households have their electricity turned off and there is no access to the National Electricity Market grid because a Code Black has been declared.

Capital Retro4:51 pm 25 Jul 22

….and provided the battery is fully charged. Also, how long does it take to get re-charged, presumably from other renewable sources?

Your maths are a bit out here.

There’s now around 150000 dwellings in the ACT.

This battery will have 250MW worth of power capacity but typically they only hold 1-2 storage at that rated power.

So say it might have a max of 500MWhr storage, that isn’t much to power each of those 150000 households who use around 20kWhr a day on average and far higher in summer and winter peak periods.

But that’s not really its purpose, the government shouldn’t keep using lazy language like “powering one third of the ACT”, that’s not what these batteries are for.

They are more for frequency control and load balancing in a network with ever greater distributed renewable energy sources.

They won’t be used for “powering” people for long at all.

Regardless of principal purposes, it is a fact that any battery will support supply for a non-zero period, as opposed to pure zero without a battery in the same scenario.

Was that tfx1’s point?

These first phase batteries will be connected to the Transgrid high voltage transmission network, and are designed to assist with frequency stability and provide some topup power during peaks or when a large generator suddenly goes offline. They will make money by providing power to the NEM when demand is high. (Transgrid used to be the NSW Electricity Commission.) These first phase batteries will not be connected to the Evoenergy distribution network around Canberra, so won’t assist in any local area blackouts within Canberra. If the NSW transmission grid did go black, similar to SA in 2016, these batteries would be flat in no time, or more likely be programmed to switch off so power could be retained to assist restart the NSW network.

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