Neoen presses ‘go’ on construction of fourth Australian big battery


From pv magazine Australia

After notifying Tesla, which will supply its Megapacks for the project, and balance of plant contractor UGL, early construction work on the Western Downs Battery is now underway. The battery will be situated next to the nearly completed 460 MWp Western Downs solar farm. Neoen estimates an operational date in the Australian summer of 2024-25.

The project received the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency's (ARENA) Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round, which will see the battery equipped with grid-forming inverter technology to help it perform essential system stability services previously provided by synchronous generators like coal and gas.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller described battery storage as an “essential technology in the transition to renewable energy, allowing us to smooth out variable generation and store electricity for when it's needed.”

“Next generation grid scale batteries such as Western Downs Battery will underpin this transition, with inverter technology that can maintain grid stability without fossil fuels,” added Miller.

The battery's primary function will primarily see it firming renewables, notably solar from Neoen's Western Downs Green Power Hub, in addition to frequency services and transmission network support.

“We are thrilled to be pressing ‘go' on the Western Downs Battery, building upon our Western Downs solar farm which is nearing completion” said Neoen Australia's Managing Director Louis de Sambucy.

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Neoen's chairman and CEO, Xavier Barbaro, added that the battery will be the most powerful in Queensland, “a state where the pace of the energy transition is accelerating.”

The news comes only weeks after Neoen's plans to develop a stand-alone 1 GW/4 GWh battery near the transitioning coal town of Collie in Western Australia were approved by the state and local authorities.

The Collie gigawatt-scale project, which is expected to be operation “by or before 2025,” will include five individual 200 MW/800 MWh battery compounds with a total combined output of 1,000 MW/4,000 MWh. The project will be constructed in 200 MW/800 MWh stages “to meet the progressive increase in demand for energy storage.”

Neoen also built the now 150 MW/194 MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, the world’s first big battery, and the 300 MW/450 MWh Victorian Big Battery which came online in December 2021, the 100 MW/200 MWh Capital battery outside Canberra, a 300 MW/800 MWh battery near Blyth in South Australia, and a 500 MW/1000 MWh battery to be built near Wallerawang west of Sydney. It has also submitted a development application for a of 200 MW/400 MWh battery facility to be built near Chittering in Western Australia.

Neoen's continuing big battery expansion across Australia should come as no surprise considering the developer credited its Victorian Big Battery for almost tripling its storage revenue in the first nine months of 2022. To September 2022, the company’s revenues totalled $547 million (USD 347.4 million), with growth in solar and wind revenues paling beside the massive surge from battery storage.

According to Neoen it now holds a global storage portfolio of 842 MW/1,341 MWh.

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