Battery plan goes flat before summer
Plans for two large-scale batteries to help secure Victoria’s power supplies this summer are in disarray, with a $25 million proposal by the Andrews government still in the planning stage months after construction was due to start.
Touted as a “game-changer” by Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio when she and Premier Daniel Andrews announced the investment in March, no successful bidder has been announced for the storage initiative.
The project, which is meant to deliver two 20-megawatt batteries with combined capacity of at least 100MWh, was due to start construction in August so it would be ready for peak demand in January.
The state will now rely on diesel generators pumping up to 100MW of power into the grid to guard against blackouts during heatwaves. It is understood the govern- ment is still assessing the bids to provide the batteries, but a spokesman for Ms D’Ambrosio yesterday declined to answer questions about the delay and whether the battery plan would proceed.
“We’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the next generation of energy technologies that will support a resilient energy system,” the spokesman said.
The batteries were to be installed in western Victoria, and each would be capable of powering a town such as Bendigo or Bal- larat for up to four hours during a peak demand period.
Opposition energy spokesman David Southwick said the Andrews government was “delivering a third-world energy policy” and changing its policy on the run.
“These are desperate policy announcements by a government who simply can’t figure out how to solve the problem they created in closing down Hazelwood and taking 22 per cent of energy out of the market,” he said.
Experts have previously ques- tioned the business case for largescale storage in Victoria and whether $25m would be sufficient to pay for it. The government has claimed energy storage will play a “vital” role in integrating renewable energy into the network and improving grid reliability.
“This initiative will highlight Victoria’s position as a leader in managing the transition to a secure and modern energy system through deployment of new energy technologies,” the state’s Environment Department said in an infor- mation packet for potential bidders.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the batteries would play an important role in keeping the power grid stable and secure if installed. “In combination with new pumpedhydro and existing hydro, batteries will give us more flexibility to address peak demand for energy and deliver a cleaner and more affordable energy system,” he said.
AGL Energy has flagged plans to build a 250MW battery — which would be the world’s big- gest battery and more than twice the size of the 100MW plant being built by Tesla in South Australia — at the site of the Liddell blackcoal power station.
The federal government last month unveiled the National Energy Guarantee, which attempts to align climate and energy policy by obliging retailers to buy certain amounts of energy from ready-touse power such as coal, gas, pumped hydro and batteries, and from renewable sources such as wind and solar to lower emissions.