AGL, the country’s biggest coal generator and biggest polluter, on Saturday a announced that it is to build a massive 250MW big battery in South Australia, with four hours of storage, making it the longest duration big battery to be built in Australia.
Importantly, the 250MW, 1000MWh battery will be built at the site of the ageing Torrens Island gas generator, which is to due to close within a few years once a new transmission link in built from South Australia to NSW, and as more renewables and grid-scale batteries displace gas generation in the supply of bulk energy and key grid services.
The significance of this battery is the four hours of storage, the first in Australia, which suggests that AGL now sees batteries as competitive with gas generators to meet peak demand periods, and to operate primarily to shift the supply of wind and solar to when it is needed most.
Other batteries – such as the original Tesla big battery at Hornsdale, and the newly unveiled Victorian big battery near Geelong – have focused on providing grid services, so only require a short duration in storage.
AGL plans to roll out 850MW of energy storage across the National Electricity Market by 2023/24, which includes its previously announced 200MW of big battery installations with two hours storage with Maoneng, a 100MW/150MWh battery at Wandoan in Queensland, and a big battery – possibly as big as 500MW – at the soon to be closed Liddell coal fired power station AGL already operates the smaller 30MW/8MWh Dalrymple North big battery in South Australia, which has a specific task of providing grid services and back-up power and an “islanding” capability on the Yorke Peninsula.
[AGL CEO Brett] Redman, who has previously hailed the “dawn of the battery age”, said it was clear that batteries would make a significant contribution to a renewables dominated grid. “We know in order to achieve this target, investment in large scale energy storage like grid-scale batteries is critical,” Redman said. “We also know this is a future South Australians are also committed to achieving and we believe batteries will play a leading role in this transition.”