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Banking & Finance | Energy & Utilities

ARENA’s perspective on the future of large scale batteries

10 Jul 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

Large scale batteries (LSB) were recently thrust into the spotlight when Minister Frydnenberg described storage as “the missing piece of the energy jigsaw”.

Since then, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – on behalf of the Australian Government – has committed $25 million to jointly fund two LSB projects in western Victoria, with the Victorian Government. The two batteries are now under construction.

This follows ARENA providing $12 million to the ESCRI project on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, which is currently being commissioned.

ARENA’s Investment Director, Dan Sturrock, is due to speak at the Large Scale & Commercial Batteries Conference 21-22 August Melbourne, where he will share insights into these respective projects, outline his expectations for future LSB projects that are seeking liquidity, and discuss the various revenue streams that LSBs can tap into.

“ARENA has a current and growing interest in large scale batteries. They are a smart and flexible form of technology that can respond quickly to changes in frequency and voltage; and we hope to see many more LSB projects coming to the table as Australia prepares itself for a decarbonized future”, says Mr. Sturrock.

“We believe this market segment has significant growth potential; and that ultimately the widespread implementation of LSBs will create a ripple effect throughout the entire renewable energy market”.

By ‘ripple effect’ Mr. Sturrock is referring to the potential for LSBs to make renewable power prices more affordable. Through capturing unused renewable energy, LSBs provide the backup generation needed for intermittent resources, like wind and solar, to reliably transmit power on a mass scale – thereby stabilizing the grid and maintaining consistent levels of supply.

“The retail prices of wind and solar power are becoming progressively cheaper. We hope that batteries, alongside other forms of storage, will ultimately provide that tipping point needed for renewables to be able to deliver dispatchable electricity which is both reliable, secure and affordable. […] They have the potential to disrupt the fossil fuel market in a big way by allowing renewables to become cost-competitive.”

So far ARENA has supported four major LSB projects, including ESCRI (ElectraNet), Gannawarra (Edify Energy), Ballarat (SP Ausnet and Spotless) and another to be announced in the near future.

While there appears to be collective agreement on the utility of LSBs, Mr. Sturrock acknowledges that each individual project has had its own set of unique challenges and opportunities and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.

Dan Sturrock will outline these challenges and opportunities and discuss the regulatory hurdles he has encountered during previous LSB projects at the Large Scale & Commercial Batteries Conference – to be held 21-22 August in Melbourne.

Learn more and register.

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