The construction of the second of two grid-scale batteries, funded by the Victorian Government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), in Gannawarra has been completed.

The 25MW/50MWh Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) began exporting electricity to the grid in October 2018 and will be fully commissioned in time for summer 2018-19.

The battery is co-located at the 60MW Gannawarra Solar Farm near Kerang in North Western Victoria.

In March 2018, on behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA committed $25 million to two grid-connected, utility-scale batteries, matching the $25 million committed by the Victorian Government as part of its $50 million energy storage initiative.

Together with the Ballarat battery, these two grid-scale batteries will help to ease constraints on transmission lines and balance the grid with higher shares of renewable energy.

Australian renewable energy company Edify Energy oversaw the development and construction of the project in a joint venture with Wirsol Energy. GESS uses Tesla’s lithium ion battery technology.

EnergyAustralia will operate GESS in addition to a long-term offtake agreement to buy all the electricity generated from the co-located Gannawarra Solar Farm.

EnergyAustralia is also the operator of the Ballarat battery now registered and working.

GESS is Australia’s largest battery to be integrated with a solar farm, and will be among the largest solar and battery facilities in the world — with the ability to provide solar energy at night to the grid.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the project shows the growing importance of batteries providing stability to the grid, and was an example of retrofitting a solar farm with a battery.

“Grid-scale batteries have the ability to provide rapid response injections of power and provide backup power when needed.

“Integrating with the local solar farm provides potential for solar energy to be stored and used at night, helping to deliver secure and reliable electricity when it is needed.

“We congratulate the consortium behind the GESS project and look forward to it providing valuable system security services to Victoria’s grid this summer.

“ARENA is excited about the completion of both batteries in Victoria which — along with the successful large-scale batteries in South Australia — will continue to play an important role in Australia’s transition to affordable and reliable renewable energy,” Mr Miller said.

Edify Energy CEO, John Cole, sees this project being a win for Victorian and Australian energy consumers.

“The entire sector is aware of the potential for storage projects to not only provide invaluable services to the market and the grid, but also to enable the roll out of more and more clean and cheap renewable energy. Solar plus storage is a ‘category killer’ and we are very proud to have developed, structured and overseen the construction of two projects that together can serve as a model for wider adoption of storage into the market and the realisation of a high renewable future.

“We intend to continue the roll out of storage and renewables projects to help our retail and corporate customers achieve their energy and sustainability objectives,” Mr Cole said.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said the project is an example of what we can look forward to in a modern energy system that delivers reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for customers.

“The ability to store and quickly release energy will help integrate renewables in the system as coal-fired plants progressively retire,” Ms Tanna said.

“These are the new technologies and approaches that will come to underpin our energy system, keeping customers’ lights on and their costs down.” 

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