19 April 2021

Pitch to market to build Canberra's Big Battery

| Ian Bushnell
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Mugga Lane Solar Park

Mugga Lane Solar Park: the Big Battery will better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network and support more renewable power sources. Photo: File.

The ACT Government has plugged into the market to spark interest in contributing to the Canberra Big Battery initiative, a key part of its climate change policy.

It wants to hear from industry about how the battery storage network could be built in the ACT.

Under the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement, the government has committed to delivering at least 250 MW of ‘large-scale’ battery storage, which will be distributed across the ACT.

There are already two battery projects in the works – French company Neoen plans to deliver a 100 MW facility in Jerrabomberra, while Spanish firm GPG will build a 10 MW battery in Beard.

The government says the Canberra Big Battery storage project aims to increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the grid, better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network, reduce electricity price spikes, and generate new revenue opportunities for the ACT.

It will also support the addition of more renewable power sources to the network.

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A letter to industry says the government is open to innovative delivery solutions through various investment, procurement and operational models and designs.

This may mean several batteries with a variety of capacities delivered through one or many organisations, and may include a small number of large-scale batteries (50 MW+), as well as a larger number of smaller, ‘precinct scale’ batteries.

“Batteries could be connected to the ACT’s transmission or distribution network, located at government sites such as bus depots or co-located with large-scale renewable generation in the ACT,” the letter says.

The government is also open to a variety of financial approaches to deliver the battery systems.

After this market sounding, the government will hold an expression-of-interest process in mid-2021, followed by a 12-month procurement process starting next year.

This may involve different procurement packages focusing on different battery systems based on size, location or purpose.

Neoen and GPG won the ACT’s fifth Renewables Reverse Auction to supply the ACT with an extra 200 MW of electricity from their wind farms in South Australia and Victoria respectively.

Part of the deal was for the companies to provide big batteries.

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Given that the vast majority of electricity usage in the home is heating/cooling & hot water heating why aren’t we drastically improving those aspects of housing thereby reducing the need for any electricity to such a small amount that renewables would easily cope with the demand. Just my uneducated opinion….

Sean Kinmonth5:27 pm 21 Apr 21

There is a risk with every power source. The link is particularly biased and tells half truths and should be discounted as being informative. Read this one instead for a better understanding of why the South Australia battery has been successful and why others want one https://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-big-battery-in-south-australia-delivers-stunning-windfall-profits-77644/

Capital Retro9:54 pm 21 Apr 21

You know what windfall means? Take that away and the venture has probably lost money.
Gas peakers all over Australia would have also made windfall profits from the event in question.

Capital Retro,
You’re partially correct but not in the way you think.

The SA battery has been so successful simply because they were first in exploiting a clear market problem where the proliferation of renewables into the electricity grid gas caused reliability and stability issues that a lack of coherent energy policy exacerbated.

These problems are already being addressed in a number of ways which will significantly reduce the profitability of battery projects in the future.

Whilst batteries will have their place, they will mainly be providing network support services, they aren’t money makers.

Capital Retro12:20 pm 22 Apr 21

I didn’t say they were money makers – they are in fact money losers.

Capital Retro,
Except all evidence at present is to the contrary.

The only large scale batteries connected to the grid are massive money earners which is why there is such strong investment demand.

Why on earth do you think they are money losers?

Capital Retro7:27 am 23 Apr 21

Tell me again why we need big batteries and what did we do before they invented?

Capital Retro,
Nice deflection, you could have just admitted you have no answer and are just making stuff up.

But seeing as I have no such problems, the answer to your question is that frequency control was significantly more easily accomplished in the past because we didn’t have the level of intermittent renewable energy generators connected to the grid, including the proliferation of small scale residential solar.

So despite large scale renewables now being financially viable and cheaper than other generation sources, they do increase the complexity of the system which needs to be managed. There are also higher grid reliability requirements than in the past, which adds to this need.

Batteries play an important part in performing this function, although most defintiely aren’t the panacea activists make them out to be.

Capital Retro9:14 am 23 Apr 21

You are so knowledgeable and modest chewy14. I am humbled.

So, because of the unmitigated proliferation of cheap, (subsidised) intermittent residential solar power taxpayers have to fund big batteries to balance grid reliability.

Compared to what we had, we now have a complete shambles but as long as there are apologists for it like you everything is OK?

You’re still not getting it.

Large scale renewable energy (wind and solar PV) is now cheaper than fossil fuels without any subsidies. So from an economic standpoint, investing in them is the cheapest outcome for consumers.

And “taxpayers” aren’t paying for this in general, electricity users are, the exact same way we do for other grid issues, even those fossil fuel plants that you seem to love.

Fossil fuel generated electricity also comes with the massive negative of CO2 as a byproduct causing global climate change and wider air pollution issues.

So whilst you are correct that renewables require additional controls to manage the grid, it’s not like fossil fuels don’t have their own massive issues, that you just can’t brush away.

Technologies change and so does the world. Your comments are akin to saying cars of the 1960s are better than today’s vehicles because they were simpler to service and maintain.

Capital Retro8:36 am 24 Apr 21

If what you say is true about renewable energy being cheaper now that fossil fuels, how come the costs to the consumer keep rising?

I know it’s against the warmists’ narrative but the South Australian Government (taxpayers) helped fund the Tesla big battery with $15 million over five years, alongside $8 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (taxpayers) and debt financing (from taxpayers) from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

I love the reliability that coal fired generators give – something that renewables and the 3 minute batteries will never be able to provide.

And indeed cars from the 1960s were better and cheaper to maintain for the reasons you stated.

The wholesale price of electricity has fallen through the floor recently as new renewable generators have connected to the grid.

Perhaps you haven’t been following?

Although the main reason that prices have fluctuated and increased in recent times is due to woeful policy direction at a federal level making investment decisions less certain and increasing risk. If the government actually enacted sensible policies, prices would drop significantly further.

So ironically, what you are complaining about is actually caused by the government’s unwillingness to properly plan for the end of coal which is significantly now more expensive.

“I love the reliability that coal fired generators give – something that renewables and the 3 minute batteries will never be able to provide.”

You only think this because you’re don’t know what you’re talking about. The same reliability is readily available, although it won’t be provided from batteries, because they only supply niche services which is entirely my original point about their profitability.

“And indeed cars from the 1960s were better and cheaper to maintain for the reasons you stated.”

Hmmm, if you honestly believe this, it explains your inability to objectively assess almost any topic where “good” and “bad” need to be determined.

Capital Retro1:52 pm 24 Apr 21

I don’t get electricity at the “cheaper” wholesale prices. I thought the reason electricity keeps going up in Canberra was because the renewable idealist ACT government has had poor judgement (or bad luck as the apologists will call it) in negotiating contracts.

It’s got nothing to do with Federal government ineptitude – the fact is we get 60% of electricity from fossil fuel generation right now and if people with your thinking want to take the plunge for 100 renewables we will have some cold nights ahead.

All very well for you to say “I don’t know what I am am talking about” but you conveniently neglect to tell me where is the same supply reliability coming from withyour beloved renewables.

You can also say what you like about my perceived inability to “objectively assess” but where I rely on common sense and facts there is no need to do it your way.

Capital Retro,
I’m no fan of the ACT government and they shouldn’t have been involved in trying to pick winners in this space. But their ineptitude doesn’t excuse the Federal government’s clear failures in energy policy that have resulted in higher prices to consumers.

“All very well for you to say “I don’t know what I am am talking about” but you conveniently neglect to tell me where is the same supply reliability coming from withyour beloved renewables.”

I don’t love renewables or any other energy source, im just able to understand the issue and the facts showing they are now superior.

And it’s quite amusing that you think I can’t answer your question. As I’m educating you, here’s an easily understandable report for you explaining how we will achieve the same level of network reliability with firmed renewables.


“You can also say what you like about my perceived inability to “objectively assess” but where I rely on common sense and facts there is no need to do it your way.”

LOL, there’s nothing remotely factual about your opinion on this issue. In fact, deliberate ignorance of the actual facts seems to be what you are peddling.

Capital Retro6:35 pm 24 Apr 21

Re that link, hello? That is full of futuristic assumptions including coal doesn’t exist any more and it refers to “the dispatchable renewable options of; PV or wind driven batteries, pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) or hydrogen; concentrating solar thermal; bioenergy and geothermal all have a role to play.

Let’s objectively assess (your way) what that claim says:

There are currently few wind driven and solar batteries and they rely on unreliable wind and sunshine.

Pumped hydro energy storage (currently bugger all of that now) which will also need sun or wind to function which again makes it unreliable.

Hydrogen? Are you dreaming?

Concentrating solar energy. Where is this operating in Australia?

Bio-energy. Don’t know anything about this. Where is it now?

Geothermal? Isn’t this what Tim Flannery lost millions of taxpayers dollars on and there was nothing to show for it?

I am enjoying this, send me more.

I give up, you can lead an old horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

The linked report isn’t full of futuristic assumptions, it’s a scientific study of actual technologies, their costs and how best to use them to provide the grid reliability that you claim so desperately to want. All available right now.

Your response? Whataboutism and ignorant anecdotes.

No wonder we end up with the political leaders we do, when large sections of the general populace is just not intellectually equipped to understand complex issues.

Actively embracing ignorance over learning and education seems to be becoming more prevalent each day.

Capital Retro9:08 pm 24 Apr 21

Says the person who thinks common sense is an alien concept and nothing is allowed to challenge scientific studies as distinct from scientific reality.

This would be great however I foresee yet another hike in electricity prices if it goes ahead

the electricity market in australia seems rigged, we pay way more for electricity than other countries with similar generation capability, and you’re probably right, we’ll probably see an increase in our bills regardless of the money it ends up saving

HiddenDragon7:59 pm 20 Apr 21

Some cautionary words here about the limits of battery technology –


“We either need a miracle invention to make batteries that are 20 times cheaper, so you can do that seasonal storage, so when you get a few weeks where [solar and wind] sources aren’t there, you still can keep people warm,” he said.

“Or, you need 25 per cent of your generation to be available, independent of the weather, and nuclear fission and fusion are really the only things that can work at that scale.”

There may be reasons why someone who has given away billions, still has tens of billions, clearly has an eye to his place in history, would have ready access to the latest science and is more often, if anything, seen as part of the “vast left wing conspiracy”, would say such things about batteries out of self-interest or ignorance, but it’s difficult to imagine what those reasons might be.

Capital Retro7:48 am 21 Apr 21

Bill Gates is the world’s richest virtue signaler: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/14/bill-gates-on-his-carbon-footprint.html

Like the last climate change crusader Al Gore, Gates has no credibility but I agree with him that the imperative is to keep people warm which renewables alone will never be able to do.

There is a great series on Netflix called “Occupied” which outlines what could happen if idealistic politicians push this climate change nonsense too far and as a consequence, traditional energy supplies to “keep people warm” are threatened.

The day batteries deliver cheap and reliable supply will be the day pigs fly. Instead of faffing around with a battery here and a solar panel there, the ACT should re-visit the 1969 plan to build a 500MW nuclear power plant in the Jervis Bay Territory.

nuclear power isn’t profitable, and the only reason any country tries to attain nuclear power is to attain nuclear weapons

even if we were to chase nuclear power, having the reactor situated near the coast is a bad idea (eg. fukushima run-off into the sea)

According to the IEA there are over 450 nuclear power reactors in over 30 countries (2018). Many of these countries don’t wish to attain nuclear weapons, such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Mexico, Finland, etc.

According to the World Nuclear Association there are 55 nuclear power reactors under construction, 109 planned, with an additional 329 proposed (2020). With this many operating, under construction, planned, and proposed, they must be profitable.

Capital Retro3:46 pm 20 Apr 21

In which way isn’t nuclear power profitable?

It depends on which experts you are talking too: https://www.ceda.com.au/NewsAndResources/News/Energy/Nuclear-energy-cheaper-than-renewables-UK-expert-D

By the way, renewables without the massive subsidies simply wouldn’t have happened – that’s how unprofitable they are.

those statistics might be outdated; renewables are getting cheaper and more energy efficient every year as technology improves

and yes, it depends on who you hear it from, however on average, they’re not profitable

technology doesn’t really improve with nuclear reactors; they’re basically just steam turbines; this may change in future when nuclear fusion becomes a reality, but nobody has cracked it, yet, and won’t until at earliest 2025; we’re better off waiting for this to happen (if it does)

there’s also the issue of spent fuel, and where it’s stored; it’s unnecessarily dangerous any way you cut it; just storing it underground in the middle of the outback would make that land unusable for tens of thousands of years

Sean Kinmonth5:59 pm 21 Apr 21

Seems to me that coal and gas are getting lots of subsidies as well. Renewables are cheaper and better for the environment.

Capital Retro9:56 pm 21 Apr 21

Tell me about the dollar and cents subsidies, please.

Capital Retro8:40 am 24 Apr 21

Reliability of supply comes at an acceptable price as most heavy industries require unlimited power 24/7.

Renewables are fine for the basket weaving industry.

I see you’re still spruiking your usual drivel. You really should do some research about renewables as your comments indicate you have no idea at all.

Capital Retro2:30 pm 24 Apr 21

Renewables are about ideas as you suggest. My drivel is based on reality.

Capital Retro2:32 pm 24 Apr 21

Still waiting for you to back up your claim, Sean.

Capital Retro9:24 am 20 Apr 21

This is turning into a contest to see who has the biggest battery.

My only hope is that it delivers cheaper and reliable supply electricity.

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