GE to supply 100 MW/300 MWh battery for South Australia solar farm

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One of the bigger PV projects in the South Australian pipeline has named its energy storage supplier. The Solar River Project has selected Paris-based GE Renewable Energy to supply and integrate a 100MW/300MWh big battery with a 200 MW PV plant.

In a press release on Thursday, GE said its 100 MW, three-hour battery storage system – which delivers almost 300 MWh of storage capacity – is capable of transferring up to 400 MWh of electricity per day. If built quickly enough, the battery will overtake the title of the largest battery system on the Australian grid from the 100 MW/129 MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve. Other even bigger batteries have already been announced, for South Australia in particular.

“The award of the battery to General Electric is another major milestone for the project,” said Solar River Project CEO Jason May. “General Electric brings a cutting-edge technology to South Australia, by delivering huge energy transfer capacity with an intelligent operating system.”

As one of the largest batteries in the southern hemisphere, the system will allow the PV plant to deliver firm generation and assist in smoothing peaks. It will contribute to a more stable South Australian grid which is, as GE puts it, characterized by “one of the peakiest loads in the world”.

Prakash Chandra, CEO of renewable hybrids fort GE Renewable Energy, described the Solar River Project as a flagship array for the renewable energy industry and for GE’s role in building out renewable hybrid plants. “Hybrid solutions have become a reality, driven by the demand for reliable and dispatchable renewable energy, which we can integrate using our proprietary controls technology to optimize asset and customer outcomes,” he said.

The Solar River Project secured development approval in June 2018 and will become operational in early 2021. The AUD 450 million ($305.7 million) project is being developed by former Investec banker Jason May and lawyer Richard Winter near Robertstown, South Australia.

It was originally announced as a 100% privately funded development with a 60/40 merchant/PPA structure. However, this changed earlier this year when Solar River signed a 15-year off-take deal with Alinta Energy for 75% of its output.

The project is likely to double its PV and battery capacity provided the proposed high-voltage transmission line to Victoria goes ahead. The connection to Victoria would be added to the proposed AUD 1.5 billion electricity interconnector between Robertstown in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

While the final determination on the interconnector is expected sometime before the end of the year, with the proposal now in the latter stages of its Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T), projects have been queuing on both sides of the proposed transmission line. The biggest among them was unveiled last week by French renewable development giant Neoen, with 1.2 GW of wind, 600 MW of solar and 900 MW of battery storage. The developer said the second and third phases of the Goyder South’s project can only commence once the interconnector is operational.