Three potential sites identified for ground-breaking SA energy storage project

Plans for Australia’s first large-scale, non-hydro energy storage project have progressed this week, with the identification of three potential sites in South Australia, and the submission of more than 40 different proposals.

The project – known as Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration South Australia (ESCRI-SA) – is a ground breaking project for Australia because it will be first and biggest of its type.

South Australia has already reached 40 per cent generation from variable renewable energy sources such as wind (33 per cent) and solar (7 per cent). It is one of the highest penetrations of variable renewables in modern industrial economies.

Up to now, that share of wind and solar has been relatively easily accommodated, but as it grows, battery storage will be required as yet more coal-fired generators are retired, and even the need for gas plant diminishes.

The storage will be needed to soak up excess generation (such as wind at night-time or solar during the day) to be stored for use at peak time. 

It will also be used to provide ancillary services such as frequency – a critical component of the grid. In Germany, battery storage is being used for the same purpose.

Paul Ebert, from Worley Parsons who is leading the project lead funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and with support from AGL Energy, and transmission group ElectraNet says the storage is likely to be located in one of three locations – near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, near the Monash substation on the Yorke Peninsula, or the Dalrymple substation in the river land area of the state.

In a request for information that went to a select group of companies, some 42 different proposals were received. On the basis of that, Ebert believes that the storage will range from 10-20MW peak capacity, and between 20MWh and 200MWh.

Just for comparison, other utilities are looking to install grid-based storage, but mostly this is between 1MHW, or I the case of Ergon Energy, one hundred different storage devices of around 100kWh.

Ebert says the business case for the project – which will include the economics of storing electricity and then selling it in to the market, an energy arbitrage, as well as the ancillary services, will be complete around August Once that is established, the project will be put out for formal tender.

Ebert says one of the challenges of the project is who wants, or is able to, capture the value of the installation.

There is “tension” between the network and energy trading value, and ownership – be it by a transmission company, a generation company, a “gen-tailer” or a 3rd party, will be critical in determining how it operates, and how it delivers value.

“The market is still in its infancy,” Ebert told the Australian Energy Storage conference in Sydney. “The issues are complex, particularly in defining roles and commercial arrangements.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson