$3.7 billion of new battery storage vying for ARENA funding

More than 3 GW of battery storage projects with a combined value of $3.7 billion are in competition for government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA has today announced that 12 projects have been invited to submit full applications to the $100 million Large Scale Battery Storage Round which aims to support grid scale batteries to be equipped with advanced inverter technology.

Together, the 12 shortlisted grid-scale batteries have an aggregate capacity of 3050 MW / 7000 MWh and a total ARENA grant request of $297 million. The 12 projects have been shortlisted by ARENA from a pool of 54 Expressions of Interest (EOIs).

Under the competitive round, the shortlisted projects will ultimately be vying for up to $100 million in ARENA grant funding to support both new build projects and retrofits for existing batteries nationally, with each battery to be at least 70 MW.

Advanced inverters, also known as grid-forming inverters, enable batteries to provide essential system services traditionally provided by synchronous generation such as coal or gas.

ARENA Acting CEO Chris Faris said interest in the round far exceeded ARENA’s expectations.

“We are really encouraged by the number and quality of applications to the round; it’s shaping up to be very competitive”, Mr Faris said.

“The 12 shortlisted projects represented the strongest of an impressive field and we’re looking forward to seeing their full applications.”

As Australia’s electricity system switches to higher rates of inverter-based generation such as wind and solar, new ways of delivering system services are needed to keep the grid stable.

AEMO’s 2021 Advanced Inverter white paper outlined the important role of grid forming inverters in supporting a future grid capable of operating with 100 per cent instantaneous renewable generation.

AEMO’s 2022 Integrated System Plan identified a growing need for electricity storage, outlining a trebling of firming capacity in the National Electricity Market with more than 60 GW of dispatchable generation and storage required by 2050.

“Advanced inverters that can help stabilise the grid are the missing piece of the puzzle that will support the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy penetration for short periods.”

ARENA has played a key role supporting innovation in grid scale batteries in Australia for several years.

ARENA has previously supported seven grid scale batteries, including four equipped with advanced inverters. Electranet’s ESCRI project remains the largest operating grid-forming battery in Australia, while the Hornsdale Power Reserve and Wallgrove are both expected to implement advanced inverter capability before the end of the year. More recently, ARENA announced funding for AGL’s Broken Hill battery, which will demonstrate the benefits of grid forming batteries in remote fringe-of-grid locations.

Shortlisted applicants have been invited to submit their full applications by a 20 July 2022 deadline. ARENA expects to announce the successful applicants to the round in late 2022.

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