Elvin Group to deliver a Tesla mega-battery to drive new Canberra suburbs

Karyn Starmer 3 May 2021 29
Elvin Group Holt battery

Elvin Group Chairman Vic Elvin and Elvin Group renewables managing director Sam Blackadder on site. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

Canberra infrastructure and renewables development company Elvin Group has announced the installation of Australia’s first commercial urban large scale-based utility battery.

The 5 megawatt-hour battery will have the capacity to service the average energy needs of approximately 5,400 households for an hour. It will also stand ready to pump power into the grid in the event of a shortfall, making sharing between ACT and NSW more efficient.

The new battery, located on Drake Brockman Drive, Ginninderry, will form an essential part of electricity infrastructure to supply the north Canberra suburbs of Holt and Ginninderry. It is the first stage of a larger national plan to provide essential support to grid services both in the ACT and across other states and territories.

The Holt and Ginninderry area was selected as an area of growing population and energy needs.

Elvin Group Renewables managing director Sam Blackadder said the battery and future solar array, developed with Evoenergy, represented the first phase in a plan to provide Canberra with reliable renewable energy to power residential homes.


READ ALSO: Pitch to market to build Canberra’s Big Battery


“As the project is expanded, batteries can be placed at strategic sites around the grid to inject bursts of power to fill gaps in dispatchable supply, meaning the nation’s existing power supply can be used more efficiently to serve greater demand,” Mr Blackadder said.

“The growth of Canberra’s population and more frequent extreme weather events have increased the demand for reliable power supply throughout the ACT. Over the past two years, the impact of storm events, hot summers and the devastating bushfires amplified the risks to the Territory’s power supply. Networks are now looking for non-network options to help avoid extended brownouts and blackouts and fluctuating voltage.

“This installation will demonstrate to the community how renewable resources are a viable solution to meet Canberra’s needs for stable, reliable, consistent and environmentally positive energy,” Mr Blackadder said.

Evoenergy Group manager strategy and operations Leylann Hinch said Evoenergy is committed to working with the energy industry and the community to promote the uptake of renewable energy and facilitate ACT’s progression towards a net-zero carbon future.

“We are excited to be a part of innovative projects like these, and we’re dedicated to transforming our grid to be at the forefront of our energy network transition and technology change,” Mr Hinch said.

Elvin Group employees at Tesla factory

Gus Elvin, Vic Elvin, Clint Parsons, Dane Elvin, Craig Elvin, Zac Elvin and Samuel Blackadder at the Tesla Gigafactory in the US in March 2020. Photo: Elvin Group.

Mr Blackadder said Elvin Group has been working on the project for over 18 months, visiting the Tesla factory in the US pre-COVID-19. The battery recently arrived on site and will go live in May.

“We are actively engaged in discussions with both the ACT and Federal governments, We wish to be active co-operative partners on future projects for the benefit of the local community, but we decided to advance on this project regardless as we believe there is a place for private enterprise in this space,” Mr Blackadder explained.

“These projects are expensive, and there is no guarantee on return; however, renewable energy solutions are a part of what we see as part of the future for the region. Reducing carbon emissions is part of our corporate and social responsibilities.”

Elvin Group is a locally owned family company that has operated in and around the Canberra region for over 50 years.

The group’s core business activities include concrete, quarry, construction and development divisions. Elvin Group Renewables has projects including solar generation, utility-scale battery installations, hydrogen production and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Elvin Group chief executive officer Craig Elvin said the company has always been focused on the Canberra region’s long-term needs.

“As a Canberra company, we have always been progressive and proactive in advancing projects that benefit the Canberra region. We actively delivered the first solar farms in Canberra. As part of the Holt project, we will also be installing a 500 kW ground-based solar array that will help ensure the operating ability of the battery during early afternoon and evening peak loads,“ Mr Elvin said.

“Elvin Group is committed to driving innovation and cutting edge technology; as such, we intend undertaking a trial later this year to have locally generated green hydrogen directly converted onsite using advanced technology to supply further amounts of stable renewable energy to ACT residents.”


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29 Responses to Elvin Group to deliver a Tesla mega-battery to drive new Canberra suburbs
Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:57 am 29 Apr 21

“……..reinstating the old coal-fired power station at Kingston…..”

Ironically, that site is now used by the glassworks and their kilns now consume vast amounts of fossil fuel generated electricity, probably more that it ever produced when it was a reliable 24/7 power station.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart Samuel Gordon-Stewart 6:31 am 29 Apr 21

We’d be better off reinstating the old coal-fired power station at Kingston, or even better we could convert it to nuclear.

Thomas Cook Thomas Cook 9:10 pm 28 Apr 21

Elle Cook thats what is on our walk

Tarsem Singh Tarsem Singh 8:36 pm 28 Apr 21

VERY good

Paul Thomas Paul Thomas 12:30 pm 28 Apr 21

One hour , it's still a toy

    Dave Ballard Dave Ballard 6:28 pm 28 Apr 21

    Paul Thomas 5400 homes for 1hr.

    That’s 1 house non stop for 225 day.

    That’s a big bloody battery

    Paul Thomas Paul Thomas 6:47 pm 28 Apr 21

    One house for 225 days, we need 1,000 for 225 days

    Rob Jones Rob Jones 8:47 pm 28 Apr 21

    It's not supposed to power them for an hour, it's designed to support infrastructure incase of a generation outage. The batteries step in during a power failure and catch the network before houses go dark. The SA Big battery has saved the grid numerous times as it can fire up in a matter of seconds, while gas generators take minutes to come online if coal power fails.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 9:07 pm 28 Apr 21

    Is that why SA is currently running on 80% gas generated electricity??

Kev Lamparter Kev Lamparter 8:16 pm 27 Apr 21

Got lots of those Tesla chargers 🔌 at McDonald’s majura park. Not one Tesla in site . Don’t let them drive them selves ... crash bandicoots

Michele Thompson Michele Thompson 8:11 pm 27 Apr 21

Way to go Glenn!

Tim Thornley Tim Thornley 5:05 pm 27 Apr 21

Chai Jaiyai coming to a place close to your work.

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 12:58 pm 27 Apr 21

Perfect! Well done Elvin!!

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:35 am 27 Apr 21

This is a very complex project and I have been told my intellect is limited on these matters but I don’t recall seeing anywhere in the blurb how much it is going to cost and who is paying for it?

At the end of the day we all know who will pay for but where is the initial funding coming from?

    Sam Blackadder Sam Blackadder 12:34 pm 27 Apr 21

    Hi Capital Retro – I can confirm that this project is privately funded and developed by the Elvin Group.

    As you stated this project is very complex and has been a long journey over the last 18 months.
    We are proud as a private local Canberra company for over 50 years to have this innovative project showcased.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:06 pm 27 Apr 21

    Thanks for that direct response Sam.

    The main concern for me is why are these facilities being built in residential areas? They have the same hazards that petroleum and gas storage depots present and they wouldn’t be allowed in the same areas, surely. The risks are the same and given that if a battery farm ignites it is near impossible to extinguish the fire.

    Has an environmental assessment been lodged and approved?

    chewy14 chewy14 8:32 am 28 Apr 21

    Capital Retro,
    Jeez you’re funny, you just can’t help yourself. It’s almost like you have a preconceived notion of these types of facilities and keep ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit, moving on to the next errorenous point.

    As for the fire risk, we do have petroleum and gas depots in residential areas and have for decades. We usually refer to them as petrol stations. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

    And as all developments must pass planning and environmental laws with appropriate investigations and risk assessments, of course these systems will need to go through the same process before approval.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:25 am 28 Apr 21

    I simply want to know are we facing another risk like this:

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6148196/2011-mitchell-fire-government-failed-to-properly-test-report-finds/

    Read about the toxicities that may come from burning batteries here:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319368068_Toxic_fluoride_gas_emissions_from_lithium-ion_battery_fires

    There are very few petrol stations in residential areas (there is one in Queanbeyan next to a block of units) and I don’t recall any catching fire in Canberra apart from the one at Duffy shops that was ignited by the 2003 bushfires.

    On the subject of bushfires, the siting of the one planned in this article is not good.

    For once, get off your high-horse chewy14.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 1:47 pm 28 Apr 21

    I’ll defend Chewy here.

    He isn’t on his high horse! He’s inside his Trojan horse. ?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:50 pm 28 Apr 21

    My computer virus detector knows how to deal with trojan horses.

    chewy14 chewy14 7:40 pm 28 Apr 21

    BJ,
    Perhaps you’d like to elaborate?

    I’m not sure how opposing ignorance and misinformation is a cover for anything?

    chewy14 chewy14 7:38 pm 28 Apr 21

    Capital Retro,
    Once again illogical and irrelevant.

    Yes, these facilities will have a fire risk. Which is why they will be appropriately located and assessed to protect any nearby residents.

    We also have multiple levels of planning controls to prevent incompatible developments. When this company submits the development applications, you are free to read them, (potentially) try to understand them, then raise any legitimate concerns. But we both know you won’t do that because you’ve already made up your mind regardless of the avalanche of evidence showing you are wrong.

    And how does the Mitchell fire relate in the slightest? You might as well blame Mr Fluffy on batteries too whilst you’re at it.

    This is nothing to do with me being on a high horse, it’s me attempting to counter your repeated ignorant posts in which you continue to assert an opinion that is not supported by any form of rational argument or evidence.

    You might as well just post “I hate renewable energy and batteries” every time one of these posts come up to save everyone the trouble.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:06 am 29 Apr 21

    If you read the article at all you would see that the project is almost completed so it is too late to review an IES if indeed there was one lodged. Remember this is a Ginninderry region development and the need for an IES on that overall development was waived.

    My questions on the EIS were directed to Sam Blackadder who is still to respond.

    The reason I mentioned the Mitchell fire was the reference to the ACT government’s failure to monitor safety aspects of the material being stored there which were inactive oil filled capacitors. In the case of this grid battery storage project we have a lot of active lithium filled “super capacitors”. If you can’t see the parallels you are just as ignorant as me.

    Just because you and your peers hate fossil fuels I don’t hate renewables and batteries. What I am critical of is the lack of oversight in the way the technologies are being thrust upon us.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:48 am 29 Apr 21

    Capital Retro,
    firstly, the requirement for an EIS on Ginninderry wasn’t waived, they sought an exemption and got it because they’d already met the requirements in the planning legislation.
    https://ginninderry.com/response-article-act-government-exempted-huge-ginninderry-development-eis-facts/

    Secondly, Drake Brockman Drive doesn’t extend in to Ginninderry so how exactly do you think it is part of it? Servicing a development is not the same as being part of it.

    I don’t hate fossil fuels, in fact I think for the main they have lifted much of humanity out of poverty and provided opportunities that would otherwise not have existed. But the fact remains, we are now transitioning away from them because they are becoming increasingly uneconomic. So whilst I am technology agnostic, you have shown a complete inability to see beyond your own biases and recognise the clear benefits renewables show moving forward.

    Oh, and as you are on a mission to protect the public from dangerous substances in the community, I’m sure you’re ready to show the same zeal over those horribly dangerous petrol stations located close to residential dwellings I was talking about before:

    https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/Service-or-Gas-Station-Fires

    In the US:
    “From 2014 through 2018, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 4,150 fires in or on service or gas station properties per year. These fires caused an average of three civilian deaths, 43 civilian fire injuries, and $30.0 million in direct property damage annually.

    And those local examples that you say you haven’t heard of.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-29/man-injured-while-refilling-petrol-canberra/9369802

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6013377/worker-awarded-damages-after-underground-petrol-tank-fire/

    https://www.9news.com.au/national/gas-explosion-sparks-huge-blaze-at-service-station-in-north-adelaide/a4b24cce-685b-4d2f-8b7d-9578ee44951a

    Isn’t it fun to selectively google things to engage in some good old confirmation bias……LOL

    Sam Blackadder Sam Blackadder 11:42 am 29 Apr 21

    Hi Capital Retro

    Just a quick reply on your question regarding fire safety , each of the units have multiple built in fire suppression technologies and communication and exceeds the standards .

    We conducted a lengthy due diligence on quite a few different battery manufacturers , safety and safety procedures were a key area for our asset/project.

    Lastly we also do have a seperate FIP ( Fire Indication Panel ). Communication system on-site with comms linked to relevant authorities .

    Hopefully that helps answers your valid concerns.

    Sam Blackadder Sam Blackadder 12:01 pm 29 Apr 21

    This information above obviously is just related to our project and our due diligence.

    Lastly apologies on a delayed reply , I am focused on the business and the projects but I do try to check when I have some time.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:57 pm 29 Apr 21

    Will you settle for “the requirement to submit an EIS was waived”? Probably not.

    The article says “The new battery, located on Drake Brockman Drive, Ginninderry…….” so how does this fit with your claim that “Drake Brockman Drive doesn’t extend in to Ginninderry ?” The developer must be wrong, of course.

    I did initially refer to this project being akin to a petrol or gas depot (not station). You don’t fill your car with petrol, gas or indeed electricity at a depot where hazards are much greater so you have unnecessarily gone off on a tangent on that one.

    Sam Blackadder should feel comfortable knowing there are experts like you at hand to support his ventures by chasing away the Neanderthal detractors like me.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:04 pm 29 Apr 21

    Capital Retro,
    If you look on a map, you will not find any suburb or district called “Ginninderry”. Many things will be linked to the overall development without being located there.

    And as I clearly would be a woeful spokesperson for these types of ventures, i’d think Sam Blackadder would probably prefer I keep quiet.

    Although I would actually agree with you that these facilities have similar risk profiles to petrol stations and gas depots. But as I’ve pointed out, those facilities do exist near (and in) residential areas and have done so for decades and decades. With appropriate controls as have been identified here, the risks are very low and can be managed.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:49 am 30 Apr 21

    We are fortunate to have such an open forum as RiotACT because there are a lot of things happening in Canberra that need a second glance and because we don’t have an effective opposition it is left to a few of us that care to “call out” some things that the main stream media won’t touch.

    I’m totally happy with the local Elvin Group being in charge of this venture. Sam Blackadder has been upfront with everything – you would not get this level of feedback from the multinational companies (that are adored by the current government) involved in similar projects in Canberra.

    I’m glad that we reached some consensus on this particular matter, chewy14.

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