BASF sodium sulphur battery

The Western Australia Government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have announced they will each provide $2.85 million in funding to trial two long-duration energy storage (LDES) batteries run by Horizon Power.

The LDES batteries will be located in remote communities powered by regional microgrids, and are designed to help Horizon Power diversify long-duration battery solutions for extreme climates.

The Western Australia Government and ARENA also said that if the trials are successful, they will help Horizon Power to roll out Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) across 34 regional areas by the end of 2024.

DERMS is a technology system designed to control and improve the flow of electricity from energy resources, such as solar panels and wind turbines. 

It allows grid operators to send out the right amount of power to meet demand and provides real-time data on the status of energy resources, allowing quick responses to changes in conditions.

BASF’s 250kW sodium sulphur battery in Carnarvon, Western Australia, will be the first of its kind in Australia to connect to a regulated network and a DERMS platform, while Redflow’s 100kW zinc bromine flow battery will be put to the test in summer temperatures well over 40 degrees in Nullagine, also in Western Australia.

The 250kW/1.45MWh BASF sodium sulphur battery will be supplied and installed in Carnarvon by Allset Energy.

Both batteries are expected to be deployed in early 2025.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said, “The Western Australia battery trials will help ensure reliable, affordable energy in the long term for hundreds of thousands of Australians living off grid.

“We are committed to investing in technologies like microgrids, to improve reliability and resilience of electricity supply for regional and remote communities – getting renewable energy to people where and when they need it.

“The trials are part of sweeping efforts by this government to ensure no one is left behind by the energy transformation,” Mr Bowen said.

Federal Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Jenny McAllister, said, “Innovative storage trials are just another way the Albanese Government is putting the regions front and centre in decarbonising the economy.

“We know that firmed renewables are the cheapest form of energy. These trials, which focus on adapting to dynamic conditions and extreme heat, will help efficiently supply renewable energy to communities no matter where they live or how hot it gets as our climate changes.

“These technologies have the potential to be scaled to communities in Australia’s extreme climates, giving locals greater energy resilience, control, and independence,” Ms McAllister said.

Western Australia Energy Minister, Reece Whitby, said, “The Cook Government strongly supports investing in new technology in our journey to net zero emissions by 2050 and recognises the role long duration energy storage will play in that journey.

“The LDES trials will provide Horizon Power with valuable operational experience and understanding of the new technologies and how they work in regions with high temperatures, which will support future deployment in the regions.

“Utilising cutting-edge technology, these innovative projects will support us on our decarbonisation journey, paving the way for a cleaner, greener and more sustainable energy future,” Mr Whitby said.

Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Unwin, said, “We are really excited about these ground-breaking trials which will support the Australian and State Government’s carbon emissions reduction targets, while making renewables more accessible for our regional and remote customers.

“Our LDES trials will provide our project team with key learnings around how the technology can be effectively integrated into our network and test their temperature resilience in regions with extreme weather conditions.

“Horizon Power was an early adopter in battery energy storage, and for the past 15 years we have been exploring how energy storage can best be used to promote increased uptake of renewable energy across regional Western Australia.

“Last year, we became the first Australian energy utility to purchase a vanadium redox flow battery, for a long-duration energy storage pilot in Kununurra. The battery, which arrived in Perth earlier this year, will be deployed to site in coming months.

“Our latest trials will continue our exploration of LDES technologies which are suitable for withstanding the extreme temperatures of our regions, providing valuable insights which will support future deployment of the batteries in our regions,” Ms Unwin said.

Featured image: BASF sodium sulphur battery. Courtesy of Horizon Power.

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