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New battery storage builds but, when do we have enough storage?

Origin Energy wants to build Australia’s largest battery, announcing a 700MW battery to be built in the NSW Hunter region.

Origin Energy plans to build the battery at its Eraring Power station site south of Newcastle. The 700MW will be able to be supplied for up to four hours making it 4 times larger than the Tesla big battery, in South Australia. The battery will be built in three stages with Stage 1 to be completed by the end of 2022.

Origin recognises their role in supporting Australia’s rapid transition to renewables and a large scale batteries ability to better support renewable energy and maintain reliable supply for customers, by having long duration storage ready to dispatch into the grid at times when renewable sources are not available.

Neoen also announced last week that it plans to build a 500MW battery capable of supplying power for two hours at the site of Wallerwang Power station near Lithgo. Neoen will again use Tesla batteries, like the South Australian Big battery, and the 300MW battery near Geelong in Victoria will be capable of supplying power for half an hour.

The planned Origin and Neoen batteries would make them the two largest storage devices in the world.

With the demise of the Coal fired generation fleet it makes sense to utilise the infrastructure available at sites such as Eraring and Wallerwang to connect the batteries to the grid, but does Australia need batteries this big?

In a recent interview with the ABC, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) outlined that there are now almost 7,000MW of battery storage projects in the planning process throughout Australia with the majority across the NEM.

Even with the rapid growth of renewable energy and the potential for 7,000MW of battery storage across the NEM, Snowy Hydro is still developing its gas fired power station in the Hunter Valley.

The back-up segment of the market is also showing interest from other projects including pumped hydro and compressed air energy storage which have both secured grants from the NSW Government.

With the big battery announcements and Snowy Hydros’ 750MW gas power generation, it will be interesting to see how NSW prices and volatility will fare when the two technologies fight for supremacy in the back-up energy segment of the market. NSW will continue to push for greater renewable penetration.