AGL will investigate the feasibility of retrofitting gas-fired power stations into energy storage facilities using innovative thermal storage technologies in a $1 million study supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The study will research whether a thermal battery can power a 200MW generating unit at Torrens B Power Station for eight hours, reducing the station’s reliance on gas and lowering costs and emissions. If the study proves to be successful, large manufacturers may also be able to use thermal batteries to decarbonise industrial processes requiring heat.
A $422,582 grant from ARENA will assist AGL in exploring heating chemically engineered materials to high temperatures to power steam-driven turbines at the Torrens Island Power Station B, just outside Adelaide.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said strong uptake of renewable energy was increasing the need for storage in the National Electricity Market (NEM).
“This study will look at the feasibility of retrofitting current power stations to be powered by renewable electricity and thermal energy storage – these are the kind of innovative ideas that we need to get this massive transformation right.
“I was lucky enough to visit MGA Thermal’s facility in Tomago in NSW recently with my colleague Meryl Swanson MP– and thermal storage technology looks very encouraging.
“We talk a lot about how we need to get much more renewable energy into the system, and storage is a major part of that. We need thermal storage, like batteries and pumped hydro, to firm that capacity and make sure it can be dispatched when we need it.”
The two possible thermal storage solutions AGL is considering for the project are:
- Kraftblock’s German-made synthetic pellets of mostly recycled material that operate at temperatures of up to 1,300℃
- MGA Thermal’s Australian alloy technology that can reach operating temperatures of 760℃
AGL Chief Operating Officer, Markus Brokhof, said the thermal battery feasibility study demonstrates AGL’s commitment to fast-tracking decarbonisation and investing in innovative technology and energy solutions.
“This is one of the first feasibility studies to look at how a thermal battery could reduce costs and lower emissions for gas-fired power stations,” Mr Brokhof said.
“Future studies will also look at how to replicate and scale thermal batteries, allowing them to be rolled out as an energy solution for commercial and industrial customers requiring heat.
“It made sense to trial this emerging technology at Torrens Island, where plans to transform the site into an industrial energy hub are already underway with the construction of the 250MW Torrens Island Battery and the adjacent 210MW fast-start Barker Inlet Power station, operational since 2019.”
For more information on AGL’s Torrens Island project, visit www.arena.gov.au/projects
Feature Image: AGL’s Torrens Island Power Station B, just outside Adelaide. Photo: AGL.