Wanted: Big Canberra Battery providers with spark

Ian Bushnell 5 January 2022 35
solar panels

The Big Battery will better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network and support more renewable power sources. Photo: Mondiaux Solar.

The 250 megawatt Big Canberra Battery project is a step closer with the ACT Government plugging into experienced providers that may wish to tender to supply grid-connected storage systems of 10 megawatts or more.

The expression of interest (EOI) process will identify a shortlist of providers that will then be invited to apply for the next request for proposal stage.

The overall project will be delivered through an ecosystem of batteries of different sizes but this EOI process focuses on large-scale batteries to be connected to the ACT’s transmission or distribution network.

The EOI follows a market sounding earlier in the year and the ACT is considering two “contract for output” options – revenue sharing and virtual storage.

In a revenue sharing arrangement the Territory will pay a fixed annual sum in exchange for a fixed percentage share of total project revenue from the provider, which will be responsible for all control, management, operation and maintenance of the facility.

Virtual storage is a more innovative model that so far is only in operation in Tasmania’s hydro-electric system.


READ ALSO: Canberra carbon farm completes cycle of renewable energy


This model fixes the price for the top and bottom intervals of the day using a form of contract for difference that pays the differences in the settlement price between the open and closing trades.

This would fix the maximum daily price spread for a battery and give the provider a fixed hourly cashflow during the highest and lowest spot price periods of each day.

Providers will have to identify suitable sites for battery facilities and the government has compiled a list of its own to assist them.

These sites are:

  • Block 1253 in Tuggeranong
  • Block 1695 in Tuggeranong – outside of Nature Reserve only
  • Block 1470 in Tuggeranong – outside of River Corridor only
  • Block 1471 in Tuggeranong
  • Block 1 Section 92 Amaroo – southwest of Ginninderra Creek only
  • Block 23 Section 65 Gilmore
  • Block 3 Section 79 Gilmore
  • Block 19 Section 344 MacArthur – outside of Special Purpose Reserve only
  • Block 5 Section 61 Lyons – small area adjacent to substation only.

The Big Canberra Battery is part of the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement and will deliver at least 250 MW of battery storage.

It is a key part of the Government’s climate change strategy which aims to reach zero net emissions by 2045.

The Government says the project aims to increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the grid, better integrating the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network, reducing electricity price spikes, and generating new revenue opportunities for the ACT.

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

The project will involve a distributed network of batteries built across the city and will build on the Neoen and GPG batteries, being developed in Beard as part of an earlier government procurement.

It will work alongside these and other batteries already being built and planned across the city, and household battery systems.

The project’s detailed design work will be undertaken in 2021-22, with construction expected to commence in 2022-23.

This tender closes on 11 February.


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35 Responses to Wanted: Big Canberra Battery providers with spark
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MERC600 MERC600 11:42 am 08 Jan 22

Hear a lot of the good things that big batteries do , like ‘grid frequency control and short term peak supply.’1

Now I think pour first big battery kicked off in 2017, so how did the network manage frequency control and short term peak supply before ?
I don’t remember any blackouts due to frequency and peak supply.
Could be wrong of course.

    chewy14 chewy14 12:49 pm 08 Jan 22

    The services were typically provided by gas generators in the past, but due to their ability to inject or draw power from the grid almost instantly, batteries are more suited to the task.

    Due to the wider proliferation of renewables, particularly small scale residential solar, the services are becoming more important.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:06 pm 08 Jan 22

    Those problems with the fancy, technical names were never a problem when we has 100% fossil fuel generation.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:07 pm 08 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    By “fancy technical names”, you mean basic concepts that have always existed and been managed regardless of generation technology.

    Thanks for admitting your ignorance on this topic, always happy to help educate you.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:10 pm 08 Jan 22

    Not only me that is ignorant on this topic chewy, it appears you are the only person in Australia that understands it because when I Google “what is grid frequency control and short term peak supply in electricity distribution” no information is forthcoming.

    Perhaps I should have included the word “renewable”?

    Anyhow, I am comfortable knowing that you have our backs. Meanwhile for me. ignorance is bliss.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:19 am 09 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    I always knew you had a different “selective” Googling habit but maybe your spelling is off and you’re blind too.

    Conducting the exact search you claim to have made brings up mountains of information and explanations on the topic.

    At least you admit your ignorance though, perhaps we’ll get less of these types of ridiculous posts from you now.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:15 pm 09 Jan 22

    Please send me the links.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:06 pm 10 Jan 22

    Thanks chewy – that’s a very comprehensive search engine link.

    As I said initially, we didn’t have these “frequency” problems before renewables took over and the ABC appear to have confirmed that: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/aemc-says-australias-power-system-weakened-by-wind-solar/8381356

    chewy14 chewy14 1:38 pm 10 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    I’m happy to provide links but not when people deliberately lie as you have done here.

    Also hilarious that apparently you couldn’t click on the first link of the previous google searches but you can find a 4 year old news article because you think it supports your predetermined position.

    Thanks for once again confirming your extreme cherry picking and confirmation biases in your selective googling.

    The problem with your claim is that if you weren’t so selective in that googling, you would understand that these issues always existed and are a fundamental part of grid management.

    As I’ve always said the transition to more renewable energy sources creates new and different challenges to managing the electricity grid but those challenges are more than made up for in cheaper electricity and better environmental outcomes.

    Your comments are akin to saying that there were less problems with maintaining horses and carriages when the automobile was invented. Actually, thinking about it, you probably did say that at the time.

    phydeaux phydeaux 2:02 pm 10 Jan 22

    A good thing there is an easy solution through the newer, cheaper, more efficient technology then, eh CR?

    Windmills needed no boiler maintenance. Stone adzes needed no smelting fire.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:58 pm 10 Jan 22

    Windmills (AKA wind turbines) actually need fossil fuel generated electricity from the grid when the wind stops blowing. How stupid is that?

    chewy14 chewy14 6:40 pm 10 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    I’ve provided you multiple links showing that isn’t the case.

    Its like saying that Coal power stations need other generators when they break down or run out of fuel.

    Dispatchable power generators old fella, no fossil fuels required.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:21 pm 11 Jan 22

    Nice deflection from my claim that wind turbines sometimes have to draw power from the grid and I don’t think it has anything to do with “dispatchable power generators” either.

    I have picked some fresh cherries and I hope you get indigestion on what is confirmed here: https://www.energywarden.com/how-do-wind-turbines-work-without-wind/
    namely “they could also be drawing power from the grid to rotate the blades during cold periods of the year to prevent the blades and gears freezing up.”

    chewy14 chewy14 11:46 pm 11 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    this isn’t even cherry picking now, it’s actually sad.

phydeaux phydeaux 10:07 am 07 Jan 22

“… EV’s batteries only come with warranty period of 8 years…”

What is the warranty period on your ICE? Will it disintegrate into a pool of oil and metal shards after the three or five years that you have (the possibility is not excluded)? Eight years for an EV is a minimum capacity guarantee (usually 70%), not a fixed date on which EVs explode if their battery is not replaced or reconditioned.

During eight years of average driving in your ICE-bound vehicle, how much will you spend on oil changes (engine and gearbox, possibly differential), timing belt(s), plugs, other ancillaries and, oh, batteries? To save you searching current news, it will be about the cost of a new EV battery at today’s prices. However, do you believe that the price of a new equivalent EV battery in eight years will be no different from the price today?

I have seen this “you have to replace the battery” comment a few times here on the Riotact, mostly from the usual suspects, and it is notably thoughtless.

Regarding the big battery, tender evaluation process is there to consider lifetime cost.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:03 am 08 Jan 22

    Most of us have to deal with the reality of what is affordable and practical and the ICE powered vehicles are way in front.

    One can buy a quality 10 year old 2 litre ICE vehicle with 100,000 kms on the clock for about $7500 (10% of the new price of a new EV). There is no warranty included but if the service history has integrity there should be no major problems. You also mention the cost of replacing a timing belt which usually recommended at 100,000 kms. I have never replaced one and I don’t know anyone that has. Most people only drive about 5000km a year so looking 10 years down the road the ICE vehicle will be still be going strong and worth a few thousand dollars whereas the EV will have a clapped out battery and will be worth nothing.

    Sure, there are potentially more maintenance costs in owning a ICE but even if these are $1,000 a year the end cost is still miles ahead of the capital cost of an EV.

    The price of electricity is still increasing as more renewables come on line yet the price of petrol will probably reduce as there is still plenty of it on tap and it’s available “on every corner”.

    There are still fire risks with EVs so until they are sorted out there will be restrictions on where they can be housed.

    phydeaux phydeaux 10:17 am 08 Jan 22

    Avoiding the point, yes, CR?

    I corrected kenbehrens’ distortions around warranty and replacement, so you have charged in with several other absurdities of your own.

    Dragging in current new (and falling) price of EVs has zero to do with kenbehrens’ claim. I properly compared actual engine costs on the same terms to dismiss the myth of massive battery expense at 8 years either being necessary or economically different compared with ICE.

    I am sorry to hear you know only people who do not maintain their vehicles (and doubtless in most respects if such is their habit). Please give us a list of names so others know from whom never to buy.

    Your “Most people drive only about 5000km a year…” is complete rubbish. Average car mileage in Australia is about 13,000 Km and average car age 10.1 years (go on, Google them). Even the ACT fleet averages 9.4 years.

    Renewables are driving down the cost of electricity across Australia and elsewhere, compared with coal. Sorry to have to remind you of truths so unpalatable to you.

    Per hundred thousand cars sold, hybrid (ICE+electric) have twice as many fires as pure ICE, and pure ICE have 60 times as many fires as pure EV. For example Kia and Hyundai have recalled 6.5 million vehicles, dated 2010-2021, for risk of spontaneous fire, so they should be parked outside.

    Have you any legitimate and relevant points to make at all?

    chewy14 chewy14 12:09 pm 08 Jan 22

    Phydeaux,
    Stop raising these inconvenient facts.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:04 pm 08 Jan 22

    Ha, ha chewy. I see you are channeling Al Gore’s “inconvenient truths” climate change mantra.

    I think every doom and gloom prediction he made was a dud. Meanwhile, he has made millions out of the renewables industry while still making dubious claims.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:00 pm 08 Jan 22

    Well, it’s great we have choices. You and the other wealthy and gullible virtue signaling warmists can have their EVs and the rest of us can bank on the certainty of proven and efficient ICE powered vehicles at a fraction of the price.

    The point about EV fires I was making relates to the fact that they can’t be extinguished and while they are “burning out” in confined spaces (like apartment basements) the toxic fumes could kill lots of people.

    How about you go your way (if you can find a charging point) and the rest of us will go ours, knowing there is a petrol station where we are going.

    phydeaux phydeaux 1:32 pm 08 Jan 22

    “ The point about EV fires I was making relates to the fact that they can’t be extinguished…”

    Incorrect.

    For your peace of mind, I suggest putting fires out.
    https://www.fireextinguisheronline.com.au/blog/post/lithium-ion-battery-fire-extinguishers-a-guide

    Other relevant information may be found in your choice of non-selective search engine.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:10 pm 10 Jan 22

    You’ve go to be joking. Attempting to extinguish a lithium battery fire in an EV would be tantamount to trying to extinguish a bushfire with a wet bag.

    phydeaux phydeaux 1:49 pm 10 Jan 22

    Capital Retro, you appear to have no idea what you are talking about. From the link I provided (others available), “Lithium Ion Battery Fire Extinguishers can be used to protect a variety of different locations, from data centres, EV charging stations to wind farms, Tesla showrooms, industrial workplace and electrical vehicles.”
    Do EV charging stations host no electric vehicles?
    Do Tesla showrooms have no electric vehicles?
    Are electric vehicles not electric vehicles?

    Here is another for the same purposes, available in large and small sizes:
    https://evse.com.au/product/lithium-ion-battery-fire-extinguisher/
    Read the detail, pick one up while it is still in stock.
    I remind you that ICE vehicle fires are 60x as likely as an EV fire. Petrol vapour is explosively flammable, which is why an ICE runs at all.

    chewy14 chewy14 3:20 pm 10 Jan 22

    Phydeaux
    I do think we are wasting our time with this one.

    Last time CR tried to say that EV fires at dedicated charging stations would be horrific and extremely damaging in the future.

    When I pointed out that existing ICE vehicles and petrol stations already regularly have large and damaging fires, he refused to listen nor read any of the actual evidence supplied as to the impact and cost of those petrol caused fires.

    EV fire = bad

    ICE fire = good

kenbehrens kenbehrens 8:00 pm 06 Jan 22

We all know EV’s batteries only come with warranty period of 8 years, potentially leaving owners with the risk of an expensive replacement, in the event of failure or dismal performance. Recently in the news there was an article about a guy with a 2013 Tesla who elected to blowup his car rather than pay for cost of a new battery.

It’s the same story with household batteries. If you live in an area with unreliable power supply or if you live remotely, there is an absolute argument for battery storage, but otherwise, the cost of the batteries outweigh their warranty periods and it all becomes a bit questionable.

The maintenance of the Big Battery will be the responsibility of the battery provider, but ultimately these maintenance costs are built into the tender prices, so the cost of that risk is still ours.

The “Emission Free” promoters never really allow for the carbon cost to build EVs, Batteries etc. It’s only ever “in use” emissions that are talked about, because they are the sexy numbers.

I think the Big Battery might be more about making a political statement than serving any real purpose.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:47 pm 06 Jan 22

    “I think the Big Battery might be more about making a political statement than serving any real purpose.”

    Well, this doesn’t really make any sense when these types of batteries have clearly defined network functions providing a valuable service to the grid.

    They make money from the provision of that service, typically grid frequency control and short term peak supply.

    There is definitely a question whether we will pay a reasonable price for the service but there’s no question about the benefits.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:32 pm 06 Jan 22

    Political statement = bad
    Virtue signaling = good.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:26 am 07 Jan 22

    Renewable energy = bad
    More expensive coal = good.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:51 am 08 Jan 22

    No, I’, not the last and I don’t understand what you mean by suggesting that politicians can make some money by supporting renewables.

    Re your father’s coal dust problem, he must live in a third world country because all Australian coal is prior to being loaded on trains, crushed and washed to remove impurities and a high proportion of coal dust and fine particles.

    Try again.

    JC JC 4:03 pm 08 Jan 22

    Capital my old man lives in Maitland adjacent to the line that brings coal in from the Hunter minefields. Some may say it’s 3rd world, but being Australia it isn’t. Whilst you are right coal is washed before being loaded, it still generates dust which is expelled from uncovered moving trains. Only need to go see the grubby look of the weatherboard houses in the area to see the black dust that covers them. It’s been a problem in the area for many years.

    As for pollies making money, you really are living in lala lane if you think the liberal/nationals pushing of coal was not driven by donations and personal investment in that industry. My point about making money is now the renewables industry is making money it’s worth investing in.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:17 pm 08 Jan 22

    Has your father apologised to you and your other family members for being involved with the evil fossil fuel industry for most of his working life?

    If he were my father I would be idolizing him.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:52 am 08 Jan 22

    We are both right.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:59 am 06 Jan 22

I am surprised that this virtue signaling government doesn’t want these novelties built in prominent positions so all the visitors (and the few tourists) that come to Canberra can share in the renewables euphoria pandemic that is sweeping the territory.

Then again, the siting of the ones in Tuggeranong appear to be near the Mugga Lane landfill so when the batteries clap out they can be bulldozed straight into the ditch and covered up. This is good planning.

    JC JC 8:42 am 07 Jan 22

    You must be one of the last people in the country who is still anti anything and everything that isn’t renewable. Even most of members of the COALition government have finally come to their senses and worked out that renewables are the future. Or more to the point they can make some money.

    And even my old man, who earned his living for the best part of 50 years driving a coal truck had finally come around too, to the extent he has now installed solar panels on his house. Now he can be heard cursing the very coal dust he has breathed in since birth because the constant parade of passing coal trains is covering his panels!

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