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Grid scale battery powers up in Gannawarra

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today jointly announced that the second of two grid scale batteries funded with the Victorian Government has been completed in Gannawarra.

The 25 MW / 50 MWh Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) began exporting electricity to the grid in October and will be fully commissioned in time for summer.

The battery is co-located at the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm near Kerang in North Western Victoria.

In March, on behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA committed $25 million to two grid-connected, utility-scale batteries, matching the $25 million committed by the Victorian Government as part of its $50 million energy storage initiative.

Together with the Ballarat battery, these two grid scale batteries will help to ease constraints on transmission lines and balance the grid with higher shares of renewable energy.

Australian renewable energy company Edify Energy oversaw the development and construction of the project in a joint venture with Wirsol Energy. GESS uses Tesla’s lithium ion battery technology.

EnergyAustralia will operate GESS in addition to a long-term offtake agreement to buy all the electricity generated from the co-located Gannawarra Solar Farm.

EnergyAustralia is also the operator of the Ballarat battery now registered and working.

GESS is Australia’s largest battery to be integrated with a solar farm, and will be among the largest solar and battery facilities in the world – with the ability to provide solar energy at night to the grid.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project shows the growing importance of batteries providing stability to the grid, and was an example of retrofitting a solar farm with a battery.

“Grid-scale batteries have the ability to provide rapid response injections of power and provide back-up power when needed.

“Integrating with the local solar farm provides potential for solar energy to be stored and used at night, helping to deliver secure and reliable electricity when it is needed.” Mr Miller said.

“We congratulate the consortium behind the GESS project and look forward to it providing valuable system security services to Victoria’s grid this summer,” he said.

“ARENA is excited about the completion of both batteries in Victoria which – along with the successful large-scale batteries in South Australia – will continue to play an important role in Australia’s transition to affordable and reliable renewable energy.”

Edify Energy CEO John Cole sees this project being a win for Victorian and Australian energy consumers.

“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. Solar plus storage is a ‘category killer’ and we are very proud to have developed, structured and overseen the construction of two projects that together can serve as a model for wider adoption of storage into the market and the realisation of a high renewable future.

“We intend to continue the roll out of storage and renewables projects to help our retail and corporate customers achieve their energy and sustainability objectives.” Mr Cole said.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said the project is an example of what we can look forward to in a modern energy system that delivers reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for customers.

“The ability to store and quickly release energy will help integrate renewables in the system as coal-fired plants progressively retire,” Ms Tanna said.

“These are the new technologies and approaches that will come to underpin our energy system, keeping customers’ lights on and their costs down.”

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

Download this media release (PDF 126KB)

Sewage pumping station cleans up with sodium batteries

Sydney Water’s Bondi sewage pumping station will soon store renewable energy in sodium-ion battery packs, trialling the cheaper alternative to the traditional lithium-ion batteries.

The project will repower the picturesque Bondi plan with a renewable energy generation system, which includes 6 kW of solar panels, a temporary lithium-ion battery and an energy management system.

The recently commissioned Smart Sodium Storage Project has received $2.7 million from ARENA towards a $10.6 million total cost, which will fund the development of the new battery technology and demonstrate how it can be used to store renewable energy.

The project is being led by energy storage researchers from the University of Wollongong, in collaboration with Sydney Water and battery storage manufacturers in China.

Professor Shi Xue Dou, director of the University of Wollongong’s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, said the Smart Sodium Storage Project was translating their research into real-world benefits.

“Sodium-ion batteries are a potential game-changer because the materials are much more abundant than those for traditional lithium-ion batteries,” Professor Shi Xue Dou said.

He said this will help reduce the cost of the raw sodium-ion materials “as well as reducing reliance on scarce, expensive lithium.”

The scarcity of lithium makes it expensive, with predictions that its price will rise higher as global demand for battery storage continues to rise.

“Critically, this project will deliver commercial-scale and ready-for-manufacture sodium-ion battery technology.”

Professor Dou says sodium-ion batteries will allow “lower-cost distributed renewable energy supply to become a reality.”

Sydney Water will test the system with lithium-ion batteries before switching to sodium-ion within a year, when the first batches arrive from the manufacturer in China.


As one of the two elements present in ordinary salt, supplies of sodium are plentiful and easily accessible. That makes the raw ingredients for sodium-ion batteries a lot cheaper than lithium alternatives.

With potential to perform similarly to other batteries on the market today, the new sodium batteries can be stacked together to meet storage requirements.

Project leader Professor Shi Xue Dou in the laboratory. IMAGE: University of Wollongong

The trade off is size. Smaller and lighter lithium-ion batteries will remain well-suited to mobile phones and EVs where size and weight are critical, but the new technology could emerge as a good fit for household and industrial applications.

To make their sodium-powered vision a reality, the researchers from the University of Wollongong have partnered with leading Chinese battery manufacturers to develop the individual 5 kWh sodium-ion battery packs.


With large volumes of wastewater and sewerage moved daily and highly intermittent and impulse heavy loads, the Bondi pumping station is the perfect place to test the new batteries.

Generating approximately 8,000 kWh of energy each year, the new system will exceed the needs of the Bondi pumping station and has the potential to send surplus power back to the grid. Given Sydney Water’s network includes more than 780 pumping stations, there is potential to scale the trial up in future.

Inside the Bondi water treatment plant. Image: University of Wollongong

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the agency is working hard to deliver secure and reliable renewable energy, which battery technology helps to make possible.

“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.” Darren Miller said.

Mr Miller said sodium-ion storage allows variable renewable energy to be dispatchable, as well as potentially reducing our reliance on lithium.

“This is just one example of an Australian innovation that could accelerate the transition to renewables. At ARENA we are always excited to support this type of R&D,” he said.

Victoria’s first of two large-scale, grid-connected batteries reaches completion in Ballarat

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency jointly announced today the first grid scale battery in Victoria has been officially commissioned in Ballarat.

In March, on behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA committed $25 million to two grid-connected, utility-scale batteries, matching the $25 million committed by the Victorian Government as part of its $50 million energy storage initiative.

The 30 MW / 30 MWh Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is currently in the final testing phase before being connected to the grid in time for the approaching summer.

A consortium led by Downer Spotless completed the battery, supplied by technology provider Fluence, in October.

BESS is owned by AusNet Services and operated by EnergyAustralia.

BESS has been built at AusNet Services’ Ballarat terminal substation, where it will help deliver critical supply and grid stability and security in a constrained and congestion area of the network – avoiding the need for further network investment.

The battery is capable of powering more than 20,000 homes for an hour of critical peak demand before being recharged.

Under the joint initiative, ARENA has also funded a second large-scale battery in Gannawarra near Kerang.

The 25 MW / 50 MWh Gannawarra battery system is co-located at the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm.

The Gannawarra battery, constructed and owned by Edify and Wirsol and supplied by Tesla, is expected to be ready for summer. This battery will also be operated by EnergyAustralia under a long-term offtake agreement.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the Ballarat battery will benefit Victoria during times of peak usage and help to improve grid stability in Western Victoria.

“As we have seen with the success of large-scale batteries in South Australia, grid scale batteries have an important role to play in providing short term energy storage and providing rapid response injections of power to help stabilise the grid.

“BESS is the first grid scale battery to be commissioned in Victoria. We congratulate the consortium behind this project, and look forward to seeing the second battery commissioned very soon.

“This battery will help to ease constraints on transmission lines in Western Victoria that currently curtail the output of wind and solar, while also helping to bring in more renewables to the grid,” Mr Miller said.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

Download this media release (PDF 107KB)

Tasmanian interconnector project sets sail

They call them the roaring forties, a fearsome system of westerly winds that propelled the merchants and explorers of the sail age on journeys into a vast unknown.

And they could one day be the powerful but invisible force helping propel Australia into a renewable energy future.

But to harness the power of those winds, and the considerable potential for new pumped hydro energy storage schemes to allow Tasmania to act as a “battery of the nation”, further interconnection is needed to deliver electricity in both directions between the island state and the mainland.

Late last year, the Australian and Tasmanian Governments announced their intention to jointly fund a $20 million feasibility and business case assessment for a second interconnector.

With up to $10 million of funding from ARENA, TasNetworks is working on the most detailed analysis ever undertaken as to how a second Bass Strait interconnector could be designed and built.

The feasibility and business case assessment will build on previous less detailed studies and answer questions that must be addressed before a decision to build the interconnector is made, including the preferred capacity, best route and location.

TasNetworks has named the study Project Marinus – from the Latin word meaning ‘of the sea’, reflecting the marine connection between Tasmania and Victoria. This month, they will hold a number of public forums in both Victoria and Tasmania on the proposed interconnector.

Low Head Lighthouse onTasmania’s rugged north coast


These public forums follow the release of the first consultation paper, which identified a link of 600MW to 1,200MW as being roughly the ideal size for a second interconnector to enable new renewable energy zones.

In the consultation paper, the 600MW connection is projected to cost between $1.4-1.9 billion, while the 1200MW alternative is estimated to cost $1.9-2.7 billion.

Tasnetworks is looking at several routes for an undersea cable to pass beneath Bass Strait, where it can connect to strong parts of the Tasmanian and Victorian electricity networks.

The report predicts a second Bass Strait interconnector will improve energy reliability and security across the national energy market, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania.

Expected costs and timelines for the project are being examined, as well as the additional infrastructure required to integrate the Marinus Link into Tasmania and Victoria. Project Marinus will also look at environmental and planning considerations, as well as best models for the link’s construction, ownership and operation.

A new interconnector, should it be given the go-ahead, would be a key to unlocking the island state’s potential to act as “battery of a nation” and also be one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the state.


Tasmania already has significant hydro capacity and a growing number of wind farms, particularly in the state’s rugged North-West, where some of the best wind resources in the world blow strong and regularly.

Musselroe Wind Farm in North-East Tasmania

Four new wind farms are being planned or constructed, including Cattle Hill in Central Tasmania, which will produce enough electricity to power 63,500 homes when it opens in late 2019.

But there is significant potential to build more wind farms over time and to use the energy they generate to meet the needs of other Australian states. A 1000MW wind farm is already in the pipeline for remote Robbins Island on Tasmania’s north west coast, if a second interconnector goes ahead.

Since Tasmanian wind farms rely on different weather systems than those in South Australia and Victoria, they can supply electricity at different times.

This electricity would be a valuable and complementary addition to the NEM, helping to smooth the variability that accompanies wind energy at present.


ARENA has already announced funding of up to $5 million for Hydro Tasmania to undertake feasibility studies as part of the Battery of the Nation initiatives. This work includes upgrading existing hydro power stations, identifying 14 high potential sites for pumped hydro and examining how wind power and hydro could help provide dispatchable, reliable power to other states.

As renewable energy grows to comprise a larger percentage of the nation’s electricity the importance of storage for ensuring grid security and reliability also increases. The Battery of the Nation is, partly, an attempt to provide for those future needs.

Here’s how it would work: Future pumped hydro projects in Tasmania could receive renewable energy from the national market when it is in plentiful supply to pump water uphill to be stored in reservoirs.

When generation drops or demand surges in other parts of Australia, water would be released to run downhill, through turbines, generating hydroelectricity that could either supply the local market or be sent back to mainland Australia via the Marinus Link.

Tarraleah hydro power station


A second Bass Strait interconnector would help to manage the risks associated with relying on a single interconnector, providing backup for Tasmania and Victoria in the event of a local shortfall or disruption to existing supply.

Such a disruption occurred in 2015-16 when an extended outage of Basslink, combined with low hydro water storage levels, put pressure on Tasmanian energy reserves for an extended period. New storage level controls were put in place, but could be relaxed with greater interconnection, delivering greater benefits to customers.

With Tasmania’s energy demand highest in winter, and the rest of the national market highest in summer, the existing Basslink interconnector supports Victoria as demand rises on the hottest days. A second link would allow these transfers to continue in the event that either interconnector is out of service.


A second interconnector has long been thought about but has become a more pressing concern as the security of the national market is thrown into focus, and the importance of energy storage in providing that security becomes clear.

A preliminary report in June 2016 found that, if viable, a second interconnector would support long term energy security in Tasmania and integration of Tasmanian renewable energy into the NEM.

A second report, in April last year, from former Australian Energy Market Commission Chair John Tamblyn, found that the project was economically viable in some future scenarios but not in others. The report recommends that the case for the second interconnector should be revisited if a number of scenarios emerge.


Many of the scenarios identified by Tamblyn are now coming to fruition:

  • Early work on the Battery of the Nation project has produced modelling that is more encouraging of a second interconnector, highlighting Tasmania’s potential to deliver benefits across the national market. Early work shows the benefits from a second interconnector could outweigh the costs by $500 million.
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator’s July 2018 Integrated System Plan identified a future need for more dispatchable renewables and stronger interconnection. The ISP also recognised the the potential benefits to the national energy market from the Marinus link.
  • Early-stage preparations for a second interconnector between South Australia and the eastern states are now underway, led by Electranet. The Tamblyn report found this would be vital to making the economic case for a second Bass Strait interconnect stack up.


TasNetworks will provide an interim report on the feasibility of a second Bass Strait interconnector by the end of 2018, while the full feasibility and business case assessment for Project Marinus is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Infigen to build new Tesla battery at Lake Bonney wind farm

South Australia’s wind and solar farms will be bolstered by more storage, following the announcement of a new big battery to be built at Lake Bonney in the state’s south-east.

Infigen announced the $38 million battery will be built with $5 million each from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the South Australian Government.

The new 25MW/52MWh battery will be built alongside Infigen’s existing 278MW Lake Bonney wind farm, which encompasses 112 wind turbines near Mount Gambier, and will be connected to the neighbouring substation.

Renewables – primarily wind – today supply more than 45 per cent of South Australia’s energy.

Finding ways to store all this energy and firm up this variable capacity has been a headline issue.

South Australia’s 100 MW Tesla battery that in part resulted from a bet between American billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Elon Musk recently celebrated its first quarter of operation with data showing it has contributed to reduced energy bills and improved grid stability.

According to AEMO’s first Quarterly Report of 2018, FCAS costs dropped 57 per cent in the Hornsdale Power Reserve’s first period of operation, which the market operator attributes to the new battery and enerNOC’s demand response pilot.

Infigen’s new $38 million Lake Bonney battery will use similar Tesla technology.

Infigen Chief Executive Officer Ross Rolfe said work to install the battery will be underway on site during September.

“Construction is fairly quick. We should start to see the first power packs being energised in in early 2019,” he said.

Grid-scale batteries are fast to construct compared with other energy infrastructure. Infigen’s new project battery will be completed in two stages – the first 33MWh of storage is due to be installed by March 2019, with the final power packs to be in place and operational by May.

Rolfe explained that flexible, fast-response storage is a vital part of Infigen’s shift from an infrastructure fund to active electricity market participant.

“The Tesla battery will enable us to react immediately to price volatility and manage the risk around variable production in meeting our customer needs,” he said.

“When our energy market was first designed coal, gas and hydro generators dominated the plant stock.  Being dispatchable, they could supply firm hedge contracts to help retailers and commercial and industrial customers manage wholesale price risks.”

This can be a challenge with wind and solar, which by their nature have variable output.

Lake Bonney Wind Farm

“Infigen is trying to re-inject firm hedge contracts back into the market. It’s about the combination of firming capacity with variable supply,” he said.

“With this capability Infigen will be able to expand its supply contracts from the Lake Bonney Wind Farm to additional commercial and industrial customers in South Australia, which is at the heart of our business strategy.

We will also be able to reduce our exposure to FCAS costs and respond to the impact of the five minute settlement rule when it is introduced in 2021,” Ross Rolfe said.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said battery storage is becoming a key component in the transition to an energy system powered by renewables.

“It is clear that grid scale batteries have an important role to play in stabilising the grid,” he said.

“Battery storage is already making South Australia’s energy supply more secure and stable, and this project could redefine the role that renewables can perform in a competitive market,” he said.

“Co-locating the battery with a wind farm makes a lot of economic sense as key infrastructure is already in place.

“The Lake Bonney project also presents an opportunity for Infigen to pursue regulatory changes that would improve the business case for batteries co-located with renewable energy generators. Providing a financial incentive to smooth wind farm output and reduce curtailment when output is constrained would make the case for these projects even stronger,” Mr Frischknecht said.

More big batteries coming online soon

Victoria’s first big batteries are due to be operational before summer, currently under construction at Gannawarra near Kerang and Ballarat in western Victoria.

ARENA and the Victorian Government have committed $25 million each towards the Victorian batteries, which ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said at the announcement in March will establish Australia as a world-leader in battery storage.

Owned by Edify Energy and its partner Wirsol, the Gannawarra Energy Storage System in Northern Victoria will connect to the Gannawarra Solar Farm and deliver 25MW of electricity with 50MWh of storage. The project is the first example of a solar farm being retrofitted with battery storage.

The second battery will be built in the Ballarat suburb of Warrenheip and be charged by renewables from the region, providing 30MW of energy and 30MWh of storage.

As well as making the electricity supply more stable and secure, the batteries will support transmission lines that are becoming congested as new wind and solar farms come online.

Grid scale battery to be built at Lake Bonney Wind Farm

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today announced $5 million in funding to Infigen to install a 25MW / 52MWh Tesla battery at the Lake Bonney Wind Farm in South Australia.

The $38 million project is also supported by the South Australian Government with a $5 million grant under its Renewable Technology Fund.
The grid scale battery will be built adjacent to Infigen’s existing 278.5MW wind farm.

Infigen will build and operate the facility which will be connected to grid via the Mayurra substation, near Mount Gambier in the state’s south east.
The battery will deliver flexible capacity and system security services, such as Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), to the electricity grid in South Australia.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said battery storage was increasingly becoming a key component of transitioning to an energy system powered by renewables.

“It is clear that grid scale batteries have an important role in stabilising the grid,” he said.

ARENA has previously contributed $12 million towards the $30 million 30 MW ESCRI battery soon to be commissioned at Dalrymple South Australia. ARENA has also committed $25 million to two grid scale batteries currently under construction in western Victoria.

“The co-location of a battery with a wind farm provides an opportunity for Infigen to pursue regulatory changes that could improve revenue outcomes for grid-scale batteries, helping to becoming more competitive,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Infigen Chief Executive Officer Ross Rolfe said: “Infigen’s strategy is to participate in growth opportunities in the NEM. We are delighted to be able to work with a global technology leader Tesla, ARENA and the South Australian Government to contribute to improved energy security for South Australian energy consumers.”

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 |

Download this media release (PDF 112KB)

Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS)

Ballarat Energy Storage System