RISC adds to battery warning

A RISC expert has backed Aurecon’s warning about the “colossal” amount of expensive storage needed to operate solar power year-round, with the Perth-based advisory laying out more data to show just how far batteries have to go to reach “utility scale” storage capacity.

Energy News Bulletin | Anthony Barich | 29 August 2017

Aurecon energy leader for Australia’s east coast, Paul Gleeson, told Energy News last month that the volume of storage – batteries or otherwise – that would be required to operate solar 24-7-365 would be “colossal”, so gas would have a role to play in the NT for “a long time yet”.
Aurecon advised on the 3.3 megawatt-hour battery energy storage project in Alice Springs which Territory Generation sanctioned in June, and is also the specialist and technical engineering advisor to the South Australian government for the agreement to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery with US-based Tesla.
RISC principal advisor Martin Wilkes spoke to Energy News in light of Aurecon’s involvement in one of Australia’s largest grid-connected storage solutions at Alice Springs, and South Australia’s investment in the world’s largest battery storage, Tesla’s 125MWh project.
Tesla recently beat a handful of Australian clean energy companies to develop the world’s biggest battery at 100 megawatts, to be co-located with Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia.
Wilkes said that even if Tesla’s proposed battery cycles fully everyday then it will meet less than 0.5% of SA’s demand, which the Australian Energy Market Operator estimates is between 1300-2000MW.
“Let’s assume – incorrectly I believe – that it’s only needed at night, which is about 10 hours of 1300MW demand (13,000MWh); then the battery almost meets 1% of demand during the night,” Wilkes said.
“You’re going to need an awful lot of the world’s biggest battery to cope with the baseload demand through the night – and that’s just for South Australia.
“You’re also going to need to increase generating capacity to not only cope with daytime [peak] use, but then also to allow sufficient additional capacity to be able to charge the batteries.
“That’s potentially a whole heap of investment in capacity that will only ever be used to charge batteries.”
With two sets of solar panels on his own roof, Wilkes says he is by no means “anti-battery” or “anti-renewables”, but given the above calculations, he doesn’t think utility-scale storage is “anywhere near yet”.
Lyon Battery Storage launched a utility-scale battery storage market services tender in June, for up to 640MWh of capacity across Victoria, SA and Queensland.
The tender includes a $660 million combined large-scale solar and battery storage project at Nowingi in north-west Victoria, which is expected to start being built later this year.
Nowingi Solar Storage’s 250MW solar generation project will charge an 80MW/160MWh battery storage system, making it the world’s second biggest such project, after Lyon’s Riverland Solar Storage development that was announced in March.
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