Work begins on big battery adjoining Australia’s biggest solar project
Work has begun on what is proposed to become a 400MWh big battery energy storage system that is being built alongside what will be – for a time at least – the biggest solar PV project in Australia, the 720MW New England solar farm in Uralla.
Project developer ACEN Australia said in a press release published on the Philippine Stock Exchange this week that ground has been broken on the first-stage 50MW, one-hour battery in the NSW Northern Tablelands.
Construction on the massive New England solar farm, originally developed by UPC\AC Renewables, is also underway across two fields east of Uralla, a town in the New England electorate of former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce.
ACEN says the first 400MW ac (520MW dc) stage of the solar farm is due to be completed in 2023. And once the entire 720MW is installed, it will produce around 1,800,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean electricity each year – enough to power about 250,000 NSW homes.
There is also potential for the battery part of the project to be scaled up, to 200MW with two hours of storage, or 400MWh.
See RenewEconomy’s Big Battery Storage Map of Australia
“Combined with the solar farm, the battery storage system will be one of Australia’s largest co- located solar and battery energy storage facilities, helping to support a more stable electricity network,” ACEN said.
“The BESS will improve system strength and grid reliability, allowing more low-cost renewable energy to connect to the grid, lowering prices for New South Wales consumers.”
Local state MP and former NSW minister for agriculture Adam Marshall was on site at the sod-turning to mark the start of construction of the BESS, which the NSW Coalition government supported with a $12.5 million grant. No word on whether Joyce was there with a shovel or not.
“The construction of the BESS is a landmark project for the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) and also the New South Wales economy,” Marshall said.
Anton Rohner, CEO of ACEN Australia, said that aside from supporting grid reliability, the battery will also allow for generation-shifting, so that energy can be stored and then discharged into grid when it is most needed.
“The New England battery can also be scaled up to 200MW with two hours of storage capacity in response to the needs of consumers and the grid,” said Rohner.
“We are excited about an energy future where projects such as the New England Solar Farm is supported with batteries and other energy storage technologies.”
ACEN, or AC Energy Corp, is the listed energy platform of the Philippines-based Ayala Group, which in March increased its ownership in UPC\AC Renewables to 80%, on track for 100% by early 2023. The acquisition led to the rebranding of UPC\AC Renewables o ACEN Australia.
“The company is pleased to be expanding its renewable energy portfolio and contributing to Australia’s transition to a clean energy future,” said ACEN president and CEO Eric Francia in a statement.
“ACEN has been a partner of UPC Renewables since 2018 and we are immensely proud of the work already achieved on the New England Solar project by the team.
“While the UPC\AC Renewables name and brand is changing to ACEN Australia, our highly capable Australian team will remain in place, and our approach to building long term relationships built on trust with our host communities, and other stakeholders remains the same,” he said.
See also: Large Scale Solar Farm Map of Australia