The Western Australian Government is exploring the opportunity for the development of a big battery to strengthen Western Australia’s power system, and has released the Request for Information process for the construction and commissioning of the battery, which is expected to create 100 jobs. 

Expected to be Australia’s second biggest battery, the proposed 100MW big battery will be bigger than 20 tennis courts, side-by-side, and have the capacity to power 160,000 homes for two hours. The battery will be located at Synergy’s decommissioned Kwinana Power Station.

WA’s energy sector is experiencing a rapid transformation, with a major uptake of large-scale renewables and rooftop solar. One in three households have rooftop solar panels, which is expected to rise to 50 per cent of households by 2030.  

Increased pressure on WA’s electricity system and inaction could result in significant blackouts in coming years.

The big battery will support integration of more renewable energy and improve grid security. It can be charged during the day, when the sun is shining and energy is plentiful, discharging this energy when it is most needed during the afternoon and evening peak.

Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “My government is committed to creating new jobs for Western Australians and embracing technological innovations that will help shape our state’s future power supply. 

“It’s important we support the rapid electricity transformation that’s happening right now, and energy storage systems, like this big battery, have a crucial role to play in providing better energy and job outcomes for the WA community.

“This project will set WA up for the long haul and ensure Western Australia continues to recover from COVID-19, stronger than ever.”

Synergy will operate the battery, which will reduce wear and tear on existing generation plants that are not designed to fluctuate in response to high levels of renewable energy in the grid.

Batteries will help the wider electricity system and the market by ‘smoothing’ demand issues, such as low load, which is encountered when customer solar generation is high but power demand is low.

Western Australian Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “This big battery will help address the ‘duck curve’ by absorbing surplus energy in the middle of the day, when solar generation is high, and discharging energy during peak times. 

“Battery storage is proving to be a versatile solution to network challenges; this big battery will complement Western Power’s roll-out of community batteries, which are providing additional support and improved power quality to local homes and businesses.”

Kwinana MLA, Roger Cook, said, “This is an exciting announcement for the local community and Kwinana industry area, which continues to make a valuable contribution to the state’s economy.

“I look forward to this important project coming to fruition in Kwinana.”

An initial $15 million of federal funding has been secured for the project. The Western Australian Energy Minister, with support from Energy Policy WA, is currently in discussions with the Federal Government regarding further funding. A final decision on the big battery is expected in late 2020.   

It is expected that if feasible a contract could be awarded by May 2021, the battery could be operational by September 2022.

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