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Compressed air storage project rises from old mine

A new method of storing renewable energy is set to be trialled in South Australia, with funding last week announced for Australia’s first compressed air energy storage project.

Canadian startup Hydrostor will build the 5 MW / 10 MWh compressed air storage facility at the old Angas Zinc Mine near Strathalbyn, about 60 kilometres south-east of Adelaide.

The company says that their compressed air system can provide the lowest cost bulk energy storage, undercutting more established methods available today.

The technology underpinning the new facility has been trialled and demonstrated that it stacks up, at least technically.

In 2015 Toronto-based Hydrostor deployed large underwater balloons in deep water off the shore of Lake Ontario. Filled with compressed air during off-peak periods, the balloons are designed to deflate under the weight of water pressure to power a turbine and generate electricity when demand rises.

While the pilot project proved that the technology can work well for locations near the ocean or deep lakes, the company needed to find a way to make the system work for landlocked sites without access to natural bodies of water.

For these locations, Hydrostor has developed a system where a cavern excavated deep underground is used to store the compressed air, with pressure supplied by a vertical water column.

During charging, compressed air is pumped into the underground chamber, displacing water from the cavern up to a reservoir at the surface. Heat created during the compression process is collected and stored, then used to reheat the air when the system is discharged to drive the turbine and create electricity.

Image: Hydrostor

With capacity limited only by the size of the underground cavern, the Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology is able to provide long duration storage, lasting for hours or even days.

In the case of the Strathalbyn site, an existing underground void will to be repurposed to store the compressed air.

ARENA is providing $6 million in funding towards the $30 million demonstration project and the South Australian Government is putting in $3 million.

Race on for grid-scale energy storage

Now that solar and wind is demonstrably the cheapest form of new generation and the transition to renewables is accelerating, the question of what happens when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine is becoming more pressing.

The solution is storage, and ARENA is supporting some of the biggest projects in the country.

From the grid-scale batteries being built in South Australia and Victoria, to Tasmania’s plan to develop new hydro and wind generation and become the ‘battery of the nation’, these projects are unlocking the technology needed to make our renewable energy supplies reliable and affordable.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said Hydrostor’s pilot could add a new form of renewable energy storage to Australia’s mix.

“Hydrostor’s innovative way to store energy with air could add to Australia’s grid-scale storage capability, complementing pumped hydro and batteries,” Mr Miller said.

The facility will provide a range of services, including synchronous inertia, load shifting, frequency regulation and provide support for grid security and reliability.

“Compressed air storage has the potential to provide similar benefits to pumped hydro energy storage, however it has the added benefits of being flexible with location and topography,” he said.

Storing compressed air in underground cavities left after the zinc mine shut down operations in 2013, Hydrostor’s project will give the mothballed site a fresh start.

“It’s always exciting to see old brownfield sites given a new life and utilised for our transition to a cleaner and renewable future,” Mr Miller said.

Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem said first Australian A-CAES project will show the strengths of the technology.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the significant benefits of adding our flexibly-sited, low-cost, bulk energy storage to the diverse range of technology helping Australia transition to a lower-cost, high system strength, cleaner electricity grid.”

Hydrostor Angas A-CAES Project

South Australian zinc mine to be converted into Australia’s first compressed air facility for renewable energy storage

On behalf of the Australian Government, The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today announced $6 million in funding to Hydrostor Australia Pty Ltd for Australia’s first energy storage project using compressed air.

Hydrostor will construct the 5 MW / 10 MWh fuel-free Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility which will re-purpose the Angas Zinc Mine in Strathalbyn, 60 kilometres southeast of Adelaide, currently in care and maintenance.

The $30 million commercial demonstration project will use the existing mine to develop a below-ground air-storage cavern that uses an innovative design to achieve emissions free energy storage. The facility will provide synchronous inertia, load shifting, frequency regulation and support for grid security and reliability.

Utilising the existing mine will help to increase renewable energy supply to the South Australian and national energy grid while also converting a brownfield site into a clean energy hub.

Hydrostor’s project also received $3 million in funding from the South Australian Government through its Renewable Technology Fund.
The technology works by using electricity from the grid to produce compressed air, which is stored in a purpose-built underground cavern kept at constant pressure using hydrostatic head from a water column.

During charging, heat from the compressed air is collected and stored before the cooled air displaces water out of the cavern up to a water reservoir on the surface. To discharge, water flows back into the cavern forcing air to the surface under pressure where it is heated with the stored thermal energy and drives a turbine to generate electricity.

As a fuel-free storage technology, A-CAES has similar applications to pumped hydro. Most notably, it can provide the dispatchability required to ensure reliability of the power system as more solar and wind power is installed.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the pilot project could open up a new form of renewable energy storage in Australia, which helps to support ARENA’s investment in delivering security and reliable electricity.

“While being a commercial demonstration at this stage, Hydrostor’s innovative way to store energy with air could add to Australia’s grid-scale storage capability, complementing pumped hydro and batteries.

“Compressed air storage has the potential to provide similar benefits to pumped hydro energy storage, however it has the added benefits of being flexible with location and topography, such as utilising a cavern already created at a disused mine site,” Mr Miller said.

“It’s always exciting to see old brownfield sites given a new life and utilised for our transition to a cleaner and renewable future,” he said.
Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem said: “Hydrostor is very appreciative of the contributions from ARENA and the Government of South Australia for its first Australian A-CAES project.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the significant benefits of adding our flexibly-sited, low-cost, bulk energy storage to the diverse range of technology helping Australia transition to a lower-cost, high system strength, cleaner electricity grid.”

ARENA media contact:

0407 125 909 |

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Grid scale ESCRI battery charges up in South Australia

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced the official completion of a 30 MW / 8 MWh grid-scale battery at the Dalrymple substation on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA provided $12 million in funding towards the construction of the $30 million Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) project.

After construction was completed in April 2018, ESCRI has been commissioned and tested and is now live and connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM), making important contributions to energy security and reliability in South Australia.

Transmission provider ElectraNet developed and owns the ESCRI battery, which was built next to, and connected to their Dalrymple substation.

AGL will operate the battery under a long term lease agreement.

ARENA Acting CEO Nicola Morris said ESCRI will complement South Australia’s other batteries and reinforce Australia’s role as a leader in large-scale battery technology.

“We’re excited to see that the completion of the ESCRI battery has already helped inform the development of further battery projects around Australia,” she said.

“The ESCRI battery will provide storage to support renewable generation and will provide  fast frequency response to stabilise the grid.

“The battery will also work with the 90 MW Wattle Point Wind Farm, and local rooftop solar, to provide contingency power to the households and businesses on the Yorke Peninsula if a power outage occurs.

“It is clear that grid scale energy storage has a role to play our future energy mix. ESCRI demonstrates that utility scale batteries can deliver a range of market services and back up power when it is needed,” Ms Morris said.

ARENA has funded four grid-scale batteries, including two batteries recently commissioned in Western Victoria and Infigen’s Lake Bonney battery currently under construction in South Australia.

ElectraNet Chief Executive, Steve Masters, said the new battery is the first large-scale battery in the NEM to provide both regulated network services and competitive market services to maximise value from its operation. Services include supplying back up power to Yorke Peninsula customers in the event of an unplanned outage.

“On average, it can provide backup power to 4500 customers in the Dalrymple service area for 2-3 hours while connection to the grid is being restored,” Mr Masters said.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

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Shoalhaven pumped hydro could double in size

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today announced $2 million in funding for Origin Energy to assess the feasibility of expanding the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme.

If the $6.8 million full feasibility study is successful, this proposal would nearly double the capacity from the existing 240MW to 475MW.

Located 150 kilometres south of Sydney in the NSW Southern Highlands, the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Storage Scheme currently consists of two pumped storage hydropower stations at Kangaroo Valley and Bendeela.

Earlier this year, Origin undertook pre-feasibility work on three potential design options for expanding the scheme.

ARENA’s funding will go towards a full feasibility study based on the preferred option, which involves bypassing the Kangaroo Valley Power Station and instead pumping water from Lake Yarrunga to Fitzroy Falls Reservoir.

The option includes a 235 MW underground power station, taking advantage of the longer water head available, resulting in a higher output and efficiency.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the proposed expansion would help provide large-scale storage and would inform other pumped hydro developments.

“For more than forty years, Shoalhaven’s pumped hydro scheme has been delivering reliable renewable power to the NSW grid. When it was built in 1977, Shoalhaven was future proofed to allow for more capacity to be added later on, which should reduce the cost and environmental impact of this project.

“The potential expansion of this scheme would provide more electricity over a shorter period so Origin can deliver capacity when needed – when demand is high or when renewable output is low,” he said.

“The findings of this study at Shoalhaven will help provide key understandings that can be applied to other hydro energy projects ARENA has supported such as Snowy 2.0, Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiatives, Kidston in Queensland, Cultana and the Iron Duchess in South Australia,” he said.

“We know that storage technologies – both pumped hydro and batteries – will be key to the transition to renewable energy in Australia, which is why we’re supporting projects such as this that will help deliver secure and reliable electricity,” Mr Miller said.

Origin executive general manager energy supply and operations Greg Jarvis said, “We welcome ARENA’s support of a feasibility assessment into the expansion of the Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme.

“Shoalhaven is in the unique position of having much of the required infrastructure needed for expansion already in place. This means it can be developed with less community and environmental impacts and in a shorter timeframe compared to developing the same amount of additional capacity as a greenfields project.

“This is a strong prospect for future expansion, because Shoalhaven can feed electricity into the grid in as little as three minutes, therefore improving reliability and complementing growing intermittent renewables in the system.

“We will now get on with important assessments and the necessary regulatory approvals that may allow us to double Shoalhaven’s generating capacity in the future,” Mr Jarvis said.

A full feasibility study is expected to be completed in 2019.

This announcement does not form a part of WaterNSW’s current Renewable Energy Expression of Interest process.


ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

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Sodium-ion battery pilot in Bondi could change the way we store energy

A new trial at Sydney Water’s Bondi sewage pumping station will soon be storing renewable energy through the use of sodium-ion batteries, a cheaper alternative to the traditional lithium-ion batteries in use around the world.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today joined with project participants   to announce commissioning of the $10.6 million renewable energy generation system at the Bondi pumping station which features 6 kW of solar panels, an energy management system and a temporary lithium-ion battery pack.

Sydney Water will use lithium-ion batteries for 12 months to test the energy management system before transitioning to sodium-ion batteries as the first batches of batteries are received from industry partners in China.

The project has been led by energy storage researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) in collaboration with Sydney Water and battery storage manufacturers in China.

Sodium-ion batteries have been developed to be comparable in performance to marketplace alternatives, as well as being cheaper, modular and expandable.

The Bondi pumping station was chosen due to the daily volume of wastewater it moves as well as proving the technology against highly intermittent and impulse-heavy loads.

The system will generate approximately 8,000 kWh of energy each year – more than the Bondi pumping station requires to power its own needs.

This pilot could be scaled up, as Sydney Water has a network of more than 780 sewage pumping stations.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA previously announced $2.7 million in funding for the Smart Sodium Storage Project which will develop and demonstrate sodium-ion batteries in renewable energy storage applications.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Part of ARENA’s role is to deliver secure and reliable electricity and battery technology will play a major role in allowing variable renewable energy to be dispatchable.”

“Thanks to the contribution of world-leading researchers from the University of Wollongong, these relatively inexpensive and reliable sodium-ion batteries aren’t too far off, potentially reducing our reliance on lithium.

“We’re always excited to support significant R&D which shows promising commercialisation prospects as the novel sodium-ion technology will assist in the faster uptake of renewable and innovative storage solutions for Australia,” Mr Miller said.

ISEM Director Professor Shi Xue Dou said the project was translating research outcomes into tangible impacts for society.

“Sodium-ion batteries are a potential game-changer because the materials are much more abundant than those for traditional lithium-ion batteries, reducing the cost of the raw materials as well as reducing reliance on scarce, expensive lithium.

“Critically, this project will deliver commercial-scale and ready-for-manufacture sodium-ion battery technology that allows lower-cost distributed renewable energy supply to become a reality.” Professor Dou said.

The smart sodium storage solution project will be instrumental in developing the entire supply chain including the product design, development and manufacturing process. The approach of piggybacking on established lithium-ion manufacturing and production processes is also a clever way of not only overcoming the difficulties of such a new technology but the approach will assist in bringing forward sodium-ions demonstration and wider use for storage in Australia and the world.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

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Lake Bonney Battery Energy Storage System

BMS-Inverter Hybrid Project

New Australian performance standards for home battery storage systems

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is helping to develop an Australian performance standard for residential and small-commercial battery systems connected to solar PV systems.

ARENA has today announced $1.4 million in funding to develop the $3.12 million project led by project partner DNV GL, to better inform customers when they’re making a decision to purchase a battery for a home or business.

The project will analyse Australian and international battery performance testing and consult with stakeholders in order to come up with a proposed Australian Battery Performance Standard. This will  initiate the formal standard development process with Standards Australia.

The project has also received $500,000 in funding from the Victorian Government. The project also involves Deakin University, CSIRO and the Smart Energy Council.

The battery standard is intended to cover battery systems ranging from residential to small commercial systems, with an estimated maximum size estimates of 100kW peak power and 200 kWh stored energy, connected to a solar PV system.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said a performance standard for home batteries will help Australian consumers decide what’s best for them.

“The difficulty for consumers to make a well-informed choice presents a barrier to uptake of battery storage,” he said.

“This project will give consumers a more informed choice and increased confidence in deciding to invest in home batteries and rooftop solar. This project will give people easy to access information on how reliable the batteries are and how well they perform over their lifetime in Australian conditions,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Energy storage is a vital component in the transition to a greener energy future, and through efforts of providing the industry with performance standards, we are supporting the safe and sustainable development of the energy storage sector. We look forward to building on these efforts to create a vibrant and lasting energy storage market for Australia,” said Lucy Craig, Vice-President Technology & Innovation for Energy at DNV GL.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

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ARENA to provide $25 million to jointly fund Victoria’s first large-scale, grid-connected batteries

The Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced it will match the $25 million by the Victorian Government to jointly fund Victoria’s first two large-scale, grid-connected batteries as part of the Victorian energy storage initiative.

The $50 million in funding will see the rollout of two battery projects which will together deliver 55 MW of power and can provide approximately 80 MWh of energy storage capacity.

The lithium-ion batteries are to be located at the Gannawarra solar farm near Kerang, and in Warrenheip, Ballarat. Together, these projects will help ease constraints on transmission lines in Western Victoria that currently curtail the output of existing wind and solar farms and will also help to support future renewable generation.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that this announcement places Australia as a world-leader in battery storage, following grid-scale batteries in South Australia.

“ARENA is excited to be demonstrating the capabilities that these new batteries will provide in securing reliable electricity for western Victoria and to facilitate the Victoria’s transition to renewable energy,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Battery storage will play a crucial role in the future energy mix, alongside other forms of storage and in conjunction with variable renewables and demand management,” he said.

In total, $25 million will be provided to a consortia led by Spotless Sustainability Services to build a 30 MW / 30 MWh large-scale, grid-connected battery located at the Ballarat terminal station. This battery is to supplied by Fluence and owned by AusNet.

This project will demonstrate how batteries can help provide grid stability and support on a congested transmission terminal, at a critical location, reducing the need to expand the substation. The battery will be capable of powering 20,000 homes for an hour.

The battery will help to increase the amount of energy supplied by surrounding wind and solar generation, at reduced cost.

A further $25 million will fund a second battery to be built at Gannawarra near Kerang, Victoria. This 25 MW / 50 MWh battery will co-located and integrated with the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm.

This battery will be owned by Edify Energy and its partner Wirsol, and the battery will be supplied by Tesla.

This project will demonstrate how an existing solar farm can be retrofitted with battery storage.

Both batteries will be operated by EnergyAustralia under long-term offtake agreements.

Both Victorian batteries will help demonstrate how large-scale batteries can provide different benefits to the electricity system, including improving grid stability and power quality, and how they can help integrate more variable renewable energy into the grid.

Construction is due to commence this month, with both batteries to be commissioned in time for the summer peak.

Spotless CEO Dana Nelson said: “It’s an exciting time for Spotless and the utilities industry. Spotless is pleased to take a lead role to introduce renewable energy solutions. We’ve brought together leading utilities experience and proven energy storage technology to deliver this Victorian first.”

Edify Energy CEO John Cole said: “We are very proud to have designed and delivered the first combined utility scale solar and storage facility in Victoria. It is unprecedented in Australia at this scale and is among the largest in the world.

“The team has worked tirelessly to overcome many regulatory, technical and commercial challenges and create a very cool project – one that can deploy solar power at night. Without a doubt as the cost of battery storage falls, we see solar and storage becoming a ‘category killer’ in the energy sector and accelerating Australia’s transition to a clean energy future,” he said.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

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