Vic to host AGL’s next big battery
AGL Energy has flagged its second large battery project within 10 days, advising of plans to install a system of up to 200 megawatts at the site of its Loy Yang coal power station in Victoria to support the growth of weather-dependent renewables.
The storage facility, which is in the early stages of development, is intended to allow eventually for up to four hours of storage, or 800 megawatt-hours. The initial project, which has yet to reach financial close, will have a smaller capacity, AGL said, without being more specific.
News of the project, to be unveiled at The Australian Financial Review Energy & Climate Summit on Monday, follows last weekend’s announcement of a 250MW system AGL aims to install at its Torrens Island power generation site in Adelaide.
But AGL’s battery storage ambitions at its Liddell site in NSW’s Hunter Valley are under a cloud as the major electricity supplier confirmed that project is on ice pending a review of the state government’s energy infrastructure plan this month.
“In August this year, AGL announced plans for battery storage beside the Liddell power station but will review this in light of the recent NSW government energy policy announcement,” it said.
NSW’s energy infrastructure road map has caused consternation across the mainstream electricity supply sector amid fears the strategy of providing floor prices for renewables projects and centrally plan transmission and generation will distort the market. Renewable energy developers have, in contrast, warmly welcomed the 20-year strategy to replace almost all coal-fired generators with renewables backed by pumped hydro storage.
AGL chief financial officer Damien Nicks told a conference last week that the company, the dominant generator in NSW since its acquisition of Macquarie Generation in 2014, would also defer its already delayed final go-ahead for a gas power peaking plant in Newcastle – due early next year – because of the plan.
The battery project in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley will advance AGL’s goal, announced in August, to develop 850MW of grid-scale storage within four years. It has also lodged a scoping report for a 50MW battery at Broken Hill in western NSW, and is supporting grid-scale battery projects in NSW and Queensland.
Chief executive Brett Redman said the network of storage plants would ease the transition to cleaner energy and modernise Australia’s energy supply.
“The limiting factor for renewable technology has always been storage and we are taking control of these limitations by turning our attention to batteries,” he said.
AGL is the country’s largest emitter of carbon emissions, from huge coal power generators in Victoria and NSW, but this year set a target to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The project is the second large storage venture for Victoria within weeks, after France’s Neoen announced it would install a battery in Geelong with output of 300MW and capacity of 450 megawatt-hours, backed by a contract to provide grid services tot the Victorian government.
All the recently announced projects are much larger than the original famous Tesla battery at Hornsdale in South Australia, which was the largest in the world when it was installed in December 2017. That 100MW/100MWh system has since been expanded by 50 per cent.
Separately, AGL is also set to broaden its carbon-neutral energy offers to customers to include gas after more than 20,000 customers signed up for carbon-neutral electricity since it made it available on July 1.
Mr Redman said the take-up of carbon-neutral electricity had beaten AGL’s expectations, giving confidence about the reception of the gas offer.
Carbon emissions from the supply of the products are effectively cancelled out by purchases of certified offset units. AGL has committed to offering carbon-neutral options across all its products – including electricity, gas and telecommunications – by the end of June 2021.