TransGrid is set to build a 50MW/75MWh large-scale, grid-connected battery at its Wallgrove substation in Western Sydney following an Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announcement of $11.5 million in funding.

The NSW Government will also provide $10 million in funding for the battery, as part of their $75 million Emerging Energy Program.

Once built, the lithium-ion battery, to be owned and operated by TransGrid, will provide fast frequency response and synthetic inertia services to the NSW transmission network.

These network services are expected to help keep the grid stable, and will become increasingly important as the energy system adapts to accommodate higher levels of renewable generation connecting into the grid.

TransGrid’s Executive Manager of Strategy, Innovation and Technology, Eva Hanly, said, “TransGrid is committed to finding low-cost, innovative solutions to the emerging challenges of the energy transformation. 

“This will be the first battery in NSW to pilot grid-scale synthetic inertia as a network service.

“It’s a step forward for the NSW grid and the National Electricity Market. This innovation will help accelerate the industry’s transformation to a low-carbon energy system, at a lower cost to customers.”

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said projects like this are important to test the ability and associated costs of using large-scale batteries as a way to stabilise the grid. 

“Energy storage is one of the priority technologies under our Technology Investment Roadmap, but for batteries to play a role we must bring down the cost,” Mr Taylor said. 

“This project will test the role and capability of batteries to bolster the grid, helping to improve the technology.”  

The decision to jointly fund the $61.9 million Wallgrove Grid Battery builds on the Commonwealth-NSW State Energy and Emissions Deal agreed upon in early 2020.

“As Australia’s energy mix continues to change, we need all levels of government working together to achieve strong results for consumers,” Mr Taylor said.

“This project demonstrates just that – the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments partnering to ensure the electricity grid in New South Wales remains secure and reliable.”

New South Wales Energy and Environment Minister, Matt Kean, said NSW is the best place in Australia to invest in clean and renewable energy.

“Energy storage technologies like big batteries release extra energy when we need it and store electricity when we don’t – making sure the grid is secure,” Mr Kean said.

“As we bring more wind and solar into our electricity system, it is cutting-edge big battery projects like the Wallgrove Grid Battery that will help to maintain reliability and keep the lights on across the state.

“This is just one of five projects being supported by the NSW Government’s $75 million Emerging Energy program. 

“Together the five projects will add 220MW of on-demand electricity to our grid, support the creation of almost 300 jobs and inject $286 million into the state’s economy.”

The battery solution

The power system currently relies on inertia provided by large spinning turbines inside coal, gas and hydro generators to maintain a consistent frequency and help the system ride out any disturbances. 

As coal-fired generators retire and more wind and solar generation connect to the grid, alternate sources of inertia will be needed to stabilise the network. 

Batteries offer a solution to this challenge at a small fraction of the cost of traditional technologies such as synchronous condensers. 

HoustonKemp has assessed the direct benefits to NSW electricity customers of this trial to be within a range of $93-135 million.

Research and results from the trial will be shared to support future projects and help demonstrate that battery technology is a low cost and technically viable solution to the emerging challenge created by the transformation of the generation sector. 

Additionally, the trial will provide a foundation for third-party battery providers to submit credible options to TransGrid in future relevant regulatory investment tests for transmission (RIT-T). 

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said TransGrid’s Wallgrove Grid Battery aims to prove large-scale battery storage is the most effective solution for managing system inertia as Australia transitions to renewable energy.

“Energy storage is one of the priority technologies under the Australian Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement released last month, and ARENA has already played a key role in supporting the commercialisation of battery storage,” Mr Miller said.

“Large-scale batteries have a big role to play in firming and balancing our electricity system as we move towards a future energy mix with higher penetration of renewable energy.”

The battery will also be used by Infigen Energy who will have dispatch control of the battery for energy arbitrage and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS). 

Infigen’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ross Rolfe, AO, said, “Our innovative agreement with TransGrid shows that Infigen continues to be at the forefront of the clean energy transition in Australia. 

“Our arrangement allows Infigen to sell more clean energy to customers and allows TransGrid to improve the strength of the network in Australia.”

These uses are complementary to the network services and ensure the full capacity of the battery is optimally utilised – which helps provide network services at the lowest possible cost to customers.  

The battery will be designed and constructed by Tesla using Tesla Megapacks, and connected directly to TransGrid’s transmission network.

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