Powering up: ACT’s next big battery will be even bigger

Ian Bushnell 22 March 2021 46
Big battery

Artist’s impression of Neoen’s big battery development at Jerrabomberra. Images: SGS.

Moves to shore up the ACT’s electricity supply is powering ahead with plans lodged for the second of two big batteries, which is now to be twice as large as first expected.

French renewables company Neoen plans to build a 100 megawatt/200-megawatt hours battery energy storage system in Jerrabomberra that will provide back-up during outages and help stabilise the grid.

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Last year, Neoen and Spanish company Global Power Generation (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, and GPG has already lodged its DA for a $10 million 10 MW system in Beard, while Neoen had flagged a 50 MW facility.

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Neoen’s development will cost more than $15 million and comprise battery packs encased in steel cabinets, a substation, a transformer, an office, a road, a 20,000-litre water tank and fencing on the 2 ha Mountain Road site, which the company has bought.

Neoen will own and operate the facility, which will have a power output of up to 100 MW, with the capacity to store up to 200 MWh of energy, and up to two hours’ power in reserve.

The future site of the battery

The future site of the big battery at Jerrabomberra.

The system will export electricity at 33 kilovolts to the substation on-site and be connected to the nearby Queanbeyan Substation.

The DA says the battery technology is conservatively estimated to have a life of at least 15 years, but with more efficient replacement technology likely, the proposed development’s total life could be up to 50 years, depending on innovation.

The aim is to provide a more predictable supply of electricity to the grid, with the big battery able to dispatch stored energy during peak times to avoid blackouts, and when large fossil fuel generators fail in heatwave conditions.

Like the Queanbeyan Substation, the facility will be operated remotely and there will not be any permanent staff on site. Traffic will be limited to one to two daily light vehicle trips to the site.

There are some regulated trees on the site, two of which will need to be removed.

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A bushfire assessment recommends that Neoen take measures to prevent and mitigate fire risks, including the establishment of Asset Protection Zones (APZ), a 20,000-litre water tank and ensuring the clear access on Mountain Road.

There are no registered heritage places or objects on the block, but there is an Aboriginal site in the north-east corner which the DA says won’t be affected by the development although it will be fenced off.

The current lease allows only stockyards and will need to be changed to accommodate the battery development.

The ACT now sources all of its electricity needs from renewable sources. The government is aiming for zero net carbon emissions by 2045.

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46 Responses to Powering up: ACT’s next big battery will be even bigger
Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:39 am 18 Jan 21

The hype for big batteries doesn’t equate with the reality:


Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:50 pm 05 Jan 21

Talking about government and superannuation funds “investing” in technology and the “future”, who could forget the failure of TransACT Communications 10 years ago.

TVG Capital, Motor Trades Association of Australian Super and ACTEW were among investors accepting $60 million from the sale of Canberra broadband provider TransACT to iiNet – an asset that cost them $280 million to build over 10 years.

ActewAGL backed up their huge losses (underwritten by ACT ratepayers) by losing another $10 million investing in A Better Place (EV venture).

ActewAGL was also “bundling” by offering reduced rates for electricity which was really a subsidy funded by users who were not involved – in the same way as solar exporters are being subsidised.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:33 am 05 Jan 21

“So many fossils commenting on this post. Sad.”

And lots of warmists unable to challenge what we are calling out.

Pete Macca Pete Macca 10:25 am 05 Jan 21

Government takes $250 Million of Superannuation from retirees to build the TESLA Battery Pack in SA. Gov makes money from TESLA Battery Pack but forgets to repay the money to retirees they took, so Gov raises the Retirement Age to 66, while they retire at 55.

    Andrew Kenna Andrew Kenna 12:57 pm 05 Jan 21

    Macca McMahon how does that work as it sounds mighty dodgy govt can just take money from superannuation funds...

    Pete Macca Pete Macca 1:25 pm 05 Jan 21

    Andrew Kenna How do you think our Gov get rich, by not spending money they don't have, if every company had to pay there tax's rather than giving it to a Charity then claiming it back at Tax time we would be the wealthiest on this planet, so they just take Gov Public Servants Retirement Funds and use it as they like. This is the reason why they keep putting up retirement age as they have no money to pay them. I'm retired and should get at least $1000 a fortnight, but i only get $580 a fn, while job keepers get up to a $1000 a fortnight. I helped build this country into what it is today, yet get paid next to nothing, even my Super is being taxed again before i get it. I paid tax on it when i made it, while it was in my Super Account they used it to buy luxury cars and boats for them selves and now i'm retired they still tax me on what i should be getting. So really i'm better off getting a job then loosing it and going onto job keeper then i will get double what i get now.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 1:43 pm 05 Jan 21

    Macca McMahon Could be a lot worse. Some super funds are still risking members' retirement savings in fossil fuel ventures.

Michael Woodhead Michael Woodhead 10:20 am 05 Jan 21

So many fossils commenting on this post. Sad.

Robert Verdon Robert Verdon 10:10 am 05 Jan 21

flow battery?

Paul Mathews Paul Mathews 9:10 am 05 Jan 21

I hear the site is patrolled by my neighbours' BARKING DOGS, isnt dat rite Chris, eh?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:19 am 05 Jan 21

Re the discussion on recycling bird blenders, don’t forget the 200 ton plugs of tower support concrete that are conveniently not seen have to be dug up and dealt with.

I assume the battery people are paying a “clean up site” bond to the EPA to cover disposal of the spent batteries etc. if the operator can’t do it? Mining companies have to do it.

Mark Curran Mark Curran 7:42 am 05 Jan 21

Another case where ACT ratepayers get to pay twice

Neil Thompson Neil Thompson 7:05 am 05 Jan 21

So what exactly is the life span of a battery and what do we do with it when it is finished with?

    Anna Andjelkovic Anna Andjelkovic 7:29 am 05 Jan 21

    Neil Thompson .. straight to landfill, like those tired old wind turbines at Lake George - just about past their use-by date

    Neil Thompson Neil Thompson 7:53 am 05 Jan 21

    Anna Andjelkovic At least the turbines are predominantly constructed of Steel with copper cabling, all recyclable, pity about the blades and the nacelle shell though.

    Steve Young Steve Young 9:03 am 05 Jan 21

    Neil Thompson still use about 200t/turbine of coal to construct

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 1:41 pm 05 Jan 21

    Neil Thompson The article says "the battery technology is conservatively estimated to have a life of at least 15 years, but with more efficient replacement technology likely, the proposed development’s total life could be up to 50 years, depending on innovation."

    I'd say 15 years on the battery is indeed conservative given the cells of the battery are stationary and would have stringent charging and thermal management.

Geoffrey Bell Geoffrey Bell 8:10 pm 04 Jan 21

So more rates increases.

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 8:07 pm 04 Jan 21

Pah! Clean energy! Disgusting!

    Andrew Cairns Andrew Cairns 7:28 am 05 Jan 21

    Rob Thomas Whats clean about the mined products and disposal of the spent components just to store energy from unreliables?

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 7:51 am 05 Jan 21

    Andrew Cairns nothing! Therefore shouldn't do anything!

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:48 pm 04 Jan 21

“….with the capacity to store up to 200 MWh of energy, and up to two hours’ power in reserve.”

Can candles be made from Skywhales……?

Ian Gooch Ian Gooch 7:44 pm 04 Jan 21

And its french so it will never work!

    Matt Turtles Matt Turtles 8:31 pm 04 Jan 21

    Ian Gooch their other renewable projects seem to be working great

    Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 1:57 am 05 Jan 21

    Matt Turtles like the 56 nuclear power stations in operation today. Without those they would need about 1,300 coal power stations or 200,000 wind turbines.

    Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 2:24 am 05 Jan 21

    (They currently have like 4 operational thermal coal power stations. Nuclear is the answer)

    Kane P-s Kane P-s 2:16 pm 05 Jan 21

    Nathan Burraston you do realise you use to argue against solar and wind on the basis they required subsidies, and now they don't you've skipped straight to nuclear which is 900% more expensive and even the Switkowski report shows requires both a carbon price and government subsidies to compete. Right?

    Kane P-s Kane P-s 2:17 pm 05 Jan 21

    And before anyone starts - I am technology agnostic, and modular breeder reactors don't exist they require the 4-5 decade process to take a concept to commercial production. The one solar and wind have recently completed. So sure. In 40-50 years. In the meantime we need power now, it's available at nearly 1/10th the cost and, to quote Ziggy, 'only advocates and intellects are talking about nuclear in Australia'.

Joanne Morrison Joanne Morrison 7:28 pm 04 Jan 21

So the Queanbeyan sale yards have been sold???

Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 7:17 pm 04 Jan 21

What a waste of money

    Andrew Cairns Andrew Cairns 7:26 am 05 Jan 21

    Garry Peadon Seemingly virtuous though!

    Michael Woodhead Michael Woodhead 10:19 am 05 Jan 21

    Garry Peadon As opposed to the billions we give to fossil fuel industries?

    Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 10:53 am 05 Jan 21

    Michael Woodhead battery tech is not there yet and use more fuel to make and transport than they can ever put out so yeah - this is a complete waste of money.

    Michael Woodhead Michael Woodhead 12:33 pm 05 Jan 21

    Garry Peadon Science indicates otherwise. I'll go with the scientists, not with the deniers.

    Row Nel Row Nel 7:42 am 06 Jan 21

    All I see is opinion, Garry, not evidence

    Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 8:27 am 06 Jan 21

    Rohan Neale actually, the property I work on has a 50kw tesla bank - always has problems and the genis are always kicking in - waste of money!

    Row Nel Row Nel 9:06 am 06 Jan 21

    Garry, the car I drive broke down once. Therefore by your logic are all cars are a waste of money?

    Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 9:42 am 06 Jan 21

    Rohan Neale battery tech is not there yet. It has its uses such as rural areas, caravans etc but big builds like this or for homes etc are proven to cost more and do not pay for themselves during the life of the battery.

    Row Nel Row Nel 9:44 am 06 Jan 21

    Lots of tech wasn't there yet. Investment in research and development helped it get there.

MERC600 MERC600 5:29 pm 04 Jan 21

Just a few more numbers to crunch.
At 10.05 last night the state of play was as

Coal 6,145 Mega Watts
Hydro 414 MW
Wind 262
Solar O Mw

Gas 270 MW
Wind 830 MW
Batt 37 MW
Solar 0 MW

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:12 am 05 Jan 21

    Well, it certainly seems that renewables have almost totally displaced fossil fuels in SA but SA does draw power from other states. NSW’s power generation is “light years ahead” by being dominant with fossil fuels. The ACT “pays for renewables” but then gets what’s available.

    At the end of the day there is no way that renewables will ever replace the reliability of coal generated electricity.

MERC600 MERC600 5:21 pm 04 Jan 21

Again much talk about our leccy supply in this burgh and the wind generators we ‘own’ down in SA.
I tend to think somehow that the wind power produced in SA is claimed to be all a part of their green credentials, and not ours. But could be wrong.
At around 5.10 this arvo NSW was producing the stuff from the following.

Black coal 6,292 Mega Watts
Small solar 297 mw
Large solar 694 mw
Wind 171 mw
Hydro 626 mw

Down in SA they are producing the stuff from

Gas 275 mw
Wind 810 mw
Large solar 220 mw
Small solar 455 mw
Battery 31 mw

chewy14 chewy14 5:11 pm 04 Jan 21

Can we please stop with the repeated ridiculousness that these batteries are designed to shore up the ACT’s electricity supply or that they will do much of anything in preventing blackouts during high demand periods.

The peak demand in the ACT in both winter and summer is currently around 600MW. Whilst these types of batteries are useful to have, they are mostly going to be used for frequency control and exploiting short periods when the electricity market price will make them money.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:44 pm 04 Jan 21

“………when large fossil fuel generators fail in heatwave conditions.”

And when was the last time this event occurred?

“………there will not be any permanent staff on site. “

Hello, wasn’t the renewables industry supposed to create thousands of jobs for Australians?

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