26 September 2023

Big battery lights the way forward

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The performance of one of Australia’s first big emission saving batteries has exceeded expectations in its first two years of operation and shown how a large-scale battery can provide benefits to the power network and energy market.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said the battery, Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI), at Dalrymple in South Australia had achieved all of its objectives and returned the $12 million grant ARENA provided in 2017 when it was commissioned.

“Construction began in October 2017, with the site energised in April 2018 and commercial operation commencing in December 2018,” ARENA said.

“As one of Australia’s – and the world’s – first large-scale battery storage systems, the project has broken a lot of new ground,” it said.

“As well as developing a first-of-its-kind commercial model to provide reliability, security and competitive market services, ESCRI created processes to navigate National Electricity Marker (NEM) registration, licensing and connection processes, paving a pathway for others to follow.”

ARENA said the project delivered the country’s largest autonomous regional microgrid and was able to operate connected to the NEM or to be ‘islanded’.

“In islanded mode, demand for electricity in the region is met entirely by renewables, with network regulation services provided by the battery,” the Agency said.

“This has provided insights into what will be required to operate the South Australian electricity system with 100 per cent renewable energy.”

It said the operational phase of the ESCRI battery showed how a large-scale battery could provide benefits to the network and energy market, and demonstrated a contracting and ownership agreement which provided the most value.

ARENA said that in the two years from December 2018 to 2020, the battery was called on in 29 system events and had responded almost instantaneously to inject power which arrested dips in voltage or reduced the duration of an outage.

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