June 12, 2020 Read More →

Big Australian batteries have potential to become much bigger

Renew Economy:

Australia is already host to the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery – the 100/129MWh Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in South Australia, which is about to commission a 50 per cent expansion.

And they are about to get bigger: Twin batteries are proposed to upgrade Victoria’s main link to Victoria, and a 600MW big battery near Geelong is being mooted for a similar purpose by Hornsdale owner Neoen. And there is the massive 30GWh battery proposed in the Northern Territory by the Sun Cable consortium looking to also build the world’s biggest solar farm.

But perhaps the biggest, and cheapest, battery in Australia right now are the ones that we already have, and don’t quite know it – the huge smelters that account for 10 per cent or more of state demand in regions such as NSW and Victoria.

“It is worth re-imagining a smelter as a giant virtual battery, one that also produces aluminium,” says Clark Butler, who has written a report for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

This already happens overseas, such as at Rio’s Kitimat smelter in Canada and a Hydro Norsk smelter in Norway, where smelters with “captive” hydro power sources have integrated electricity and smelting to manage both aluminium and electricity price volatility.

“They can make an objective, value-maximising choice between ramping up aluminium production (and using more electricity) when aluminium prices are attractive and curtailing production (and selling surplus electricity) when that provides a better return,” Butler says. 

[Giles Parkinson]

More: Australia’s big smelters could also be giant batteries, and go green at same time

Posted in: IEEFA In the News

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