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By Rebecca Todesco, Journalist, Utility Magazine

Australian renewable energy development and storage investment company, Edify, is building a new lithium-ion battery which is the first battery project in the market to be financed with commercial banks and will be the largest approved grid-forming battery in Australia once completed.

The battery project will add more flexible dispatchable capacity to the New South Wales energy market, boosting and complementing the significant presence of renewable generation already in the Riverina region. Construction on the project kicked off in early June 2022, with Tesla Motors Australia under contract to deliver the facility to completion.

The battery project – known as The Riverina and Darlington Point Energy Storage Systems – is being built in the Murrumbidgee Shire, South West New South Wales, and will have a combined installed capacity of 150MW/300MWh. The storage systems consist of three independent but co-located projects:

• 60MW/120MWh Riverina Energy Storage System 1 (RESS 1)
• 65MW/130MW Riverina Energy Storage System 2 (RESS 2)
• 25MW/50MWh Darlington Point Energy Storage System (DPESS)

Construction is underway and progressing well, with energisation and commercial operations anticipated in the first half of 2023, carried out in a staged manner for each of the three projects. The project is experiencing similar challenges to companies world-wide – with current global supply chain issues – however, these issues have not resulted in project delays.

Edify Chief Executive, John Cole, said Edify is excited to be delivering another ‘first in market’ facility. “We have long been believers of harnessing the full capability of power electronics and preparing for a 100 per cent renewables-based grid,” Mr Cole said.

“In this instance, we’re using the combination of the dispatchable properties of batteries with a new vintage of grid forming inverter control systems to create a generator that can provide power system support services, which have traditionally been provided by thermal synchronous generators.”

A pioneering battery finance deal

Edify announced the completion of project financing in June and scored a first-time battery asset transaction in the Australian market with Federation Asset Management as majority owner. Along with Federation Asset Management, Edify Australia managed to acquire partnerships with EnergyAustralia, Shell Energy and a syndicated debt facility with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Westpac and DNB.

This is the first battery project in Australian history to be financed with commercial banks – a move that paves the way for future battery project funding opportunities. These partnerships were enabled by the strong long-term offtake position that the projects had, with Edify negotiating said agreements with both Shell Energy and EnergyAustralia. Mr Cole said Edify is looking forward to working with AEMO, TransGrid, Federation Australia, Shell Energy, EnergyAustralia, Tesla Motors Australia and all project stakeholders to bring the project into commercial operation.

Sparking widespread deployment of innovative tech

The new batteries will be equipped with innovative grid forming inverters, which enable batteries to provide the system stability services traditionally only provided by synchronous generation, such as coal or gas.

Progressing grid forming inverters through the network connection process, and then demonstrating their application in the network, should trigger more widespread adoption of this particular technology by other inverter suppliers and project proponents.

This will in turn ensure a stronger network and greater confidence that existing thermal power stations can be retired without presenting technical stability issues. The storage systems use Tesla Megapacks for energy storage and were designed and developed by Edify.

Equipped with grid forming inverters that operate in ‘virtual synchronous generator’ mode, they will be the most advanced battery systems in the National Electricity Market (NEM), once completed.

The battery is the first system to navigate the network connection process as a grid forming inverter. This is a significant development and means that this innovative technology can and will be used throughout the NEM to provide network support services – which will become
increasingly important as the existing thermal power stations, like coal, retire and the proportion of renewables like solar and wind increases.

Working closely with stakeholders

The construction of the battery is taking place on the traditional land of the proud Wiradjuri people – the largest Indigenous Australian Nation in New South Wales.

Edify acknowledges the Wiradjuri people – known as the “people of three rivers” – as the traditional custodians of this land and recognises their deep understanding of how to live in harmony with the environment.

Throughout the battery’s construction, Edify has continued to work closely with the Murrumbidgee Council and other local groups to fund ground roots projects that help foster healthy, diverse communities. Edify’s voluntary funding contribution has been directed to the local sports field facilities which was recently opened by the Mayor of Murrimbidgee, Ruth McRae, with further improvements to the sports field and local parks expected.

The ability to rapidly increase the supply of renewable energy available to government, businesses and consumers is critical to achieving Australia’s carbon emission reduction targets, which is why this project is expected to have significant impacts for the NEM and Australia’s renewable energy future overall.

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved

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