Victoria will be home to the largest battery in the southern hemisphere as part of a State Government push to transition to renewable energy.
Renewable energy company Neoen will pay for the 300 megawatt Tesla battery to be installed at Moorabool, near Geelong.
The new battery will be twice the size of the battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia.
The company says the 450 megawatt-hour battery has enough energy to power half a million homes for one hour, but it’s main role is to feed power into the grid when its unstable in order to stop blackouts.
State Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the battery would improve energy reliability in summer and drive down electricity prices.
“We know in the time of climate change, our summers are getting far hotter and much longer, so that means there is increased strain on our thermal generators,” she said.
“This is part of our plan to deliver security, reliability and affordable power.”
The state has signed an $84 million contract with Neoen for the project.
But Ms D’Ambrosio was not able to say how much Victorians would save on their power bills once the project was built.
“Our independent analysis shows for every dollar that is invested, it will present two dollars for every Victorian in terms of value,” she said.
- The Government says construction of the battery will create 85 jobs
- The 300 megawatt/450 megawatt-hour battery, to be built at Moorabool, should be ready by November 2021
- The battery should store enough energy to power half a million homes for one hour
AusNet Services executive general manager of regulation and external affairs, Alistair Parker, said the battery would be able to power about 300,000 homes.
“Its critical role though, will be enabling extra interconnector capacity,” he said.
“If we have a fault in the network it can very quickly give us 250 megawatts and nobody will see the inconvenience in the network.”
Battery will 'unavoidably affect other market participants'
The Australian Energy Council (AEC) said the Government’s decision to develop the battery in Geelong without any independent regulatory scrutiny of costs and benefits or clarity of how it would participate in the energy market was a bad idea.
“The AEC supports private investment in response to market signals, however, this battery will be funded by Victorian consumers whether or not it proves useful,” AEC chief executive Sarah McNamara said.
“While it is clear this battery will participate in the energy market, it is not clear who will make decisions on when or how it will be used, which will unavoidably affect other market participants.”
Shadow Minister for Energy and Renewables, Ryan Smith, said the battery should be built 150 kilometres further west at Mortlake.
He said it would be closer to other renewable energy projects, and less energy would be lost in transmission.
“The Victorian Liberal Nationals support renewable energy, reducing our emissions and investing in large scale battery technologies to store clean power,” Mr Smith said.
“What we don’t support is building such batteries in areas that make neither environmental nor economic sense.
“This big battery should be built at Mortlake, as we proposed in June, not at Moorabool.”
Acting Leader of the Greens, Ellen Sandell, welcomed the announcement but said the Government needed to do more to transition the state away from coal-fired power.
“This battery is a good step, and we welcome it, and now the Government needs to go one step further and actually admit we need to get off coal in Victoria,” Ms Sandell said.
Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said the battery was a game-changer for Victoria’s transition to clean energy.
“This big battery gets us halfway to the storage target we need to prepare for the closure of Yallourn Power Station,” he said.
The project is also part of a Government plan to support jobs as the state begins to recover from the pandemic, with more than 85 jobs expected to be created in the construction of the battery.
The battery, which will be built near the Moorabool Terminal Station, is expected to be ready by November 2021.
South Australia’s giant battery has been credited with keeping the lights on, but also driving down power bills.
A review by consultancy firm Aurecon found the Tesla battery had saved SA consumers more than $150 million since it was built in 2017.