Bat­tery plan goes flat be­fore sum­mer

The Australian - - THE NATION - PIA AK­ER­MAN

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.

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