Australian city will get 4 MW community battery as grid back-up

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From pv magazine Australia.

A Tesla battery with a 4 MW capacity will be built at Bohle Plains on the northern outskirts of the Queensland city of Townsville this year, to provide back-up power to the community.

The battery will store excess solar being fed into the grid during the day in what the Queensland government described as “the solar hotspot of Townsville” and will be used to help out during evening peak periods, as well as provide back-up power in case of disruptions, including during storms.

The system is being installed by Queensland’s public utilities, with design work under way and on-site civil work pencilled in for late August.

“This is a small but significant addition to Queensland’s publicly-owned electricity system, a system which is delivering cheaper prices, on average, compared to other mainland states in the National Energy Market (NEM),” the state’s acting energy minister Mark Furner said.

With Australians being tipped to lead the world for adoption of household battery storage this year, the planned community battery will be part of a 135 MW virtual power plant (VPP) owned and managed by Yurika, an arm of publicly-owned Energy Queensland.

Solar rooftops proved a draw

Covering as many as 40,000 rooftop solar systems, the VPP pilot was launched in 2015. Last year, the Townsville cloud-based load control network welcomed big industrial players as foundation customers, including Australian zinc metals producer Sun Metals and agribusiness MSF Sugar.

The virtual plant has supplied power to the NEM 65 times since it was commissioned just under a year ago, including during recent heatwave and evening peaks, the government said.

According to Furner, Townsville was chosen for the grid-connected battery because of its high number of rooftop solar systems and proximity to electricity infrastructure. “With around 20,000 residential rooftop solar systems in Townsville, battery storage technology will help ensure power quality and reliability in the local network,” the minister added. “It is expected to give the local network greater capacity to take on residential solar in Townsville, as well as provide back-up during summer peak demand.”

The Tesla battery will build on the $386 million (US$278 million) Powering North Queensland Plan instituted by the Labor-led state government of Annastacia Palaszczuk, and will represent an important step towards a renewable energy future and reaching Queensland’s target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Storage is the next step

“Battery storage technology is the next stage in steady progress [towards this goal],” said Furner. “As the first publicly-owned community-scale battery in Queensland, this represents an energy milestone.”

Queensland has a few big battery projects at various stages, including one at the solar PV-wind-storage Kennedy Energy Park; the Lakeland facility near Cooktown, featuring 10.8 MW solar and 1.4 MW/5.3 MWh of battery storage; and a project with PV capacity of 55 MW and 20 MW/80 MWh of battery storage proposed by Japan’s JERA and U.S.-based Fluence.

This article was amended on Jan 30 to reflect the VPP will be owned and operated by Yurika.