Members of the public have been invited to learn, ask questions and provide feedback about Canberra’s next grid-scale battery at an information session next month.
Now in the early stages of development, the “Territory Battery” will be a 300-megawatt standalone battery storage facility located directly south of the Stockdill Substation, about 3 km south of Holt.
Its creators, independent renewable energy producer Neoen, will hold the drop-in community information session on Wednesday (November 2) from 2 pm to 6 pm in the Ginninderry Link Building in the new suburb of Strathnairn.
Neoen head of communications and engagement Lisa Stiebel said batteries were a “critical part” of the national capital’s energy transition.
“As we move to higher penetration of renewables in the ACT, the wider NSW and Australian grid, batteries have a multi-faceted role to play,” she said.
“The higher your renewable energy penetration is, the more you need to ‘firm’ them up. Batteries will be a big part of providing that firming and smoothing the transition.”
Ms Stiebel said the information session would give the general public the chance to deep dive into the development application for the Territory Battery, share their thoughts on the plan and pose questions to subject matter experts about this “fascinating” technology.
“Think of big batteries as Swiss army knives. They actually have various tools with different functions that can be pulled out depending on your needs,” she explained.
“Everyone knows what a battery fundamentally does; it stores and releases power. Big batteries are no different, but when they store and release power and under what circumstances is the question.”
Ms Stiebel explained frequency control was one very useful function of big batteries and that they were also providing new services.
“We’ve been at the forefront of innovating a service called ‘inertia services’, which are critical to keeping the grid running in a stable way,” she explained.
“Traditionally this is powered by coal or gas, but as more comes off the grid there will be shortfalls of this function.
“The correct frequency for power usage is a very narrow band. A big battery can respond to fluctuations in milliseconds to ensure frequencies stay stable on the grid level. When you stop changes in the frequency, you can prevent the grid from plunging.
“We were recently the first to demonstrate that batteries can provide inertia at scale to the grid.”
Using lithium-ion battery packs to store and discharge energy to the network, the Territory Battery will be able to charge and discharge a total of 600 megawatts per hour (MWh).
As the average household consumes 18 kWh (0.018 MWh) each day, this is the equivalent of 400,000 ACT households for two hours, effectively reducing the possibility of blackouts and providing reliability to renewable resources.
As the technology has improved over time, “big batteries” are living up less to their name in scale and more in outputs.
In 2018, Neoen built a 100-megawatt battery in South Australia and the following year, built a 300-megawatt battery in Victoria that took up roughly the same space.
Located close to the lower Molonglo water treatment centre, the proposed area for the Territory Battery including access roads and the transmission corridor spans 8.9 ha, with 4 ha dedicated to the big battery.
The site’s location, far away from residential areas, means any noise from the cooling fans won’t pose issues.
Pending DA approval, construction will begin on the Territory Battery in about a year and will take about two years to complete, bringing with it employment opportunities.
The Territory Battery drop-in community information session will let Canberrans learn about the project but also about big batteries generally and the role they’re likely to play in the ACT’s transition away from gas.
“We’re a company that’s at the heart of working on this stuff, we’re innovators in this space, and we know what’s going on at the grid level of the ACT’s transition,” Ms Stiebel said.
“We have our offices here in Canberra, so we’re pretty passionate about having our next project in the community we live and work in.
“We’re equally keen to get people’s input as well in terms of long-term community benefits they’d like to see flowing in from this project.
“The ACT community is pretty switched on regarding renewable energy, climate change and sustainability. We want to give them a chance to look under the hood at what’s going on.”
The Territory Battery drop-in community information session takes place on Wednesday (November 2). Drop in at the Ginninderry Link Building located at 1 McClymont Way, Strathnairn any time between 2 pm and 6 pm or visit the Territory Battery website for more information.