Australia’s newest big battery hits construction milestone


From pv magazine Australia 

Australia’s Northern Territory is set to have its first big battery operating in 2023 – the 34.7 MW / 34.7 MWh Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System (DK BESS), which is now being built at the Channel Island Power Station in Darwin. The big battery’s capacity looks modest, but it’s worth noting that the Northern Territory has a population of just 247,000.

Switzerland-based Hitachi Energy, which won a territorial government tender in Dec. 2021, is delivering the battery with Virtual Synchronous Machine. The grid-forming technology gives batteries the capacity to help stabilize the grid by providing inertia and frequency control services, which have only been provided by gas or coal-fired generators until recently.

Hitachi has already deployed the technology in Australia with Hitachi ABB Power Grids in use at South Australia’s 30 MW/ 8 MWh Dalrymple battery. Hitachi Energy Country Managing Director Bernard Norton described the deployment as “a bold step toward operating the entire Darwin-Katherine network without gas powered generators.”

Norton is gesturing toward the end vision for the Darwin-Katherine battery which, being built at the site of a 279 MW gas facility, the Channel Island Power Station, is a step towards eventually replacing the fossil-fuel generation.

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DK BESS is expected to unlock more capacity for residential and industrial solar and save 58,000 tons of carbon emissions per year. The battery is expected to generate cost savings of $6.6 million and pay for itself in just under five years. It will feed into the Darwin-Katherine Interconnected System, which services 150,000 people in the Northern Territory.

Gerhard Laubscher, CEO of Territory Generation, the territory-owned company behind the Channel Island Power Station, said Hitachi Energy already has a team mobilized to the site to conduct specialist battery equipment and cabling installation.

Hitachi is working with local contractor ESPEC to deliver the battery, while Western Australian company Pacific Energy Group will supply and install the 11.5 kV switchroom via its subsidiary, MVLV Power Solutions.

The DK BESS has been described as the “cornerstone investment” of Territory Generation’s Fleet Transition, with the project also a major part of the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan.

“Construction of the Darwin-Katherine BESS is a huge step forward in our plan for 50% renewables by 2030,” said Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Selena Uibo.

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