Energy utility AGL has given the green light to the 250MW Torrens big battery in South Australia, its second major big battery announcement in two days as it starts to accelerate its transition from a largely fossil fuel fleet to new technologies.
AGL CEO Brett Redman said a final investment decision had now been made, and construction of the Torrens big battery is expected to begin later this year, with completion in early 2023, about the time some of the current capacity at the Torrens Island gas generator will be retired.
However, in one important development, the storage duration of the 250MW battery will initially be for just one hour (250MWh), rather than the four hours (1,000MWh) flagged when the project was first unveiled last November, which would have made it the biggest battery in terms of megawatt hours in the country, and one of the biggest in the world.
This suggests, in contrast with the four hour battery it is planning at the Loy Yang generator in Victoria, for which it announced a planning application on Tuesday, that AGL is targeting shorter terms variations and opportunities in the South Australia market, although it has not ruled out expansion down the track. Redman said the expansion to four hours storage would occur at a later time as market conditions changed. A similar approach is being taken at Liddell, where AGL plans a 150MW one hour battery before possibly expanding that facility to 500MW and up to four hours of storage.
Redman said there is no direct funding support from the state government for the Torrens battery. “This is a project that stands on its own two feet,” he told reporters. “AGL is putting its money where it’s mouth is.”
The Torrens battery is the first of a planned 850MW of new battery capacity to be built by AGL, with varying lengths of storage. It is also developing the 200MW battery at its Loy Yang A power station, the 150MW battery at its Liddell power station and a 50MW battery in Broken Hill as well as supporting grid-scale battery projects including Wandoan, Maoneng and Dalrymple.