October 27th, 2020 by Steve Hanley
Despite the horrendous lack of leadership by Australia’s national leaders [can people who fail to lead actually be called leaders?], the individual states in Australia are embracing renewable energy in a big way. South Australia was the first when it agreed to then “Tesla Big Battery” in Hornsdale, a facility that has worked superbly and saved rate payers a considerable amount of money since it was switched on.
New South Wales, home to the city of Sydney, has also begun embracing renewable energy in a big way, having recently introduced two renewable energy zones, one north of the city and another to the west of it. Battery storage will play an important role in NSW’s renewable energy plans and the first of those batteries is now scheduled to be installed at the Wallgrove substation in western Sydney.
The Wallgrove battery will have a capacity of 50 MW and 75 MWh, making it the second largest battery in the country after the Hornsdale battery. What is newsworthy about the Wallgrove battery is that it will be the first in Australia to use Tesla’s Megapack storage batteries which have a capacity of 3 MWh each — fifteen times more than the Powerpack batteries used previously at Hornsdale and other locations. The Megapack batteries significantly reduce installation times once they arrive onsite.
According to Renew Economy, transmission company Transgrid will the Wallgrove facility, which will provide fast frequency response and inertia services to the NSW transmission network via Tesla’s synthetic inertia product known as “Virtual Machine Mode.” In a letter to the Australian Energy Market Commission in 2017, Tesla described the attributes of VMM as follows:
Tesla’s energy storage system’s synthetic inertial response can be adaptive and modified based on the grid conditions by the grid operators in real time, unlike traditional generators that are restricted by their physical characteristics in providing a constant inertial response behavior. Tesla energy storage systems’ capability to provide fast, well-shaped, and coordinated synthetic inertia improves power systems frequency stability. This approach is particularly well suited to electricity grids with higher renewable energy penetration.
Transgrid will own and operate the Wallgrove battery but the battery will actually be dispatched by Infigen Energy, which owns wind assets, as well as a fast-start gas generator in NSW. It also operates the Lake Bonney big battery in South Australia, next to its Lake Bonney wind complex.
The $61.9 million battery will receive up to $11.5 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and another $10 million from the NSW government as part of its $75 million Emerging Energy Program. Infigen will pay lease payments to Transgrid to operate the facility and will pick up the revenue. Construction will begin in February and is due to start operations in October next year.
The Wallgrove battery will be the first of at least a dozen big battery installations scheduled to be built across NSW. The state government says it will support four other large batteries including one at the Sapphire wind farm and a second at the New England solar farm north of Sydney. Utility company AGL also plans to build four separate battery facilities and also a monster battery of up to 500 MW at the site of Liddell coal fired generating station that is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2023.
The NSW state government is also providing funding for another half a dozen big battery proposals, and numerous other developers are talking of adding big batteries at existing wind and solar farms. Transgrid also says it is looking for more big battery proposals from third party battery providers to install across its network.
All of this movement toward a renewable energy future is in stark contrast to the preachings of federal leaders, who say ridiculous things like “solar will not pay for itself in a million years” and “windmills are horrible looking and will never work.” The words are eerily similar to those of alleged president trump, who complains that wind turbines are super expensive and will drive up the cost of electricity. He also likes to intone that “windmills kill all the birds. All the birds.”
But the free market both men idolize is undermining their position on a daily basis. Utilities and grid operators are not installing renewable energy as fast as possible because of some politically driven agenda. They are doing it because it is the only thing that makes economic sense. The very principles they embrace so passionately are making them both look like fools — not that they needed any help with that.
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