Australia increases energy storage capacity as summer approaches
Australia’s largest integrated solar and battery storage facility – Victoria’s Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) – has begun importing and exporting electricity to the grid ahead of the country’s summer demand spikes.
The project marks the first time a utility-scale battery system has been retrofitted to an existing solar project in Australia. In this case, a 25 MW/50 MWh Tesla Powerpack battery is being used to store energy from the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm.
GESS was developed by a consortium made of up Australian renewables and storage firm Edify Energy, Tesla and energy retailer EnergyAustralia. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Victorian government provided $25mn in grant funding for the project, with German developer Wirsol providing co-finance.
Edify Energy CEO John Cole believes GESS is a model for the future production and distribution of low-carbon energy in Australia. ‘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,’ he says.
EnergyAustralia will charge and dispatch energy from the facility until 2030, in addition to an agreement to purchase all the electricity generated by the Gannawarra Solar Farm. The company says that operating the combined solar farm and battery facility in a coordinated way will better serve the energy market than a stand-alone renewable asset.
Meanwhile, Australia’s largest university has switched on its own 1 MWh energy storage solution to manage its solar energy supply. The system installed at Monash University, which is also located in Victoria, utilises vanadium redox flow technology originally invented in Australia and now patented by UK company redT.
The storage machines are situated on the roof of one of the university’s biomedical buildings and are coupled with traditional lithium-ion batteries. Monash University has a 4 MW solar park, which supplies most of the energy for its Clayton Campus.
The installations at Monash University and Gannawarra come at a time of increased activity in Australia’s energy storage market. Last year, the country added 246 MW of stored power capacity – more than any other nation worldwide, according to redT. While Australia is still largely reliant on coal-fired power, renewable energy now makes up 19% of power generation.