Green light for Australia’s largest grid-forming battery

Australia’s largest battery with grid-forming inverter capabilities is set to go ahead, with AGL today reaching a Final Investment Decision (FID) on a 500 MW / 1,000 MWh grid-forming battery in Liddell, New South Wales.

Announced last year on behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) conditionally approved up to $35 million in funding to the project, as part of the $176 million Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round.

The grid-scale battery will be built on the site of the retired Liddell power station and will form part of AGL’s Hunter Energy Hub planned for the site. Originally planned at half the size (250 MW / 500 MWh), AGL decided to expand the size of the battery, which will help to provide important systems services to the Hunter region.

ARENA’s Large Scale Battery Funding Round announced last year saw conditional funding be awarded to eight grid-scale battery projects across Australia. Each battery will be equipped with grid-forming inverter technology, allowing them to provide essential system stability services traditionally provided by synchronous generation such as coal and gas.

At the time, these battery projects from AGL, Origin, Neoen, FRV, Risen and TagEnergy represented a tenfold increase in grid-forming electricity storage capacity operating in the National Electricity Market.

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. Grid-forming inverters are one of the missing pieces of the puzzle that will help to support the transition to 100% renewables.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller welcomed the FID announcement, highlighting the importance of utilising all the capabilities available from renewable energy technologies.

“As new solar and wind connects to our grids, we’re going to need increasing amounts of energy storage to continue to provide reliable electricity to our households and businesses. However, as coal and gas generators retire, or start to play a lesser role, we’ll also need these new batteries to provide the crucial system security services that are currently provided by these traditional generators.”

“This is why it is important to fund batteries like AGL’s that are equipped with smart inverter technology which can help stabilise the grid as we transition to renewables.”

“We look forward to the construction of AGL’s battery in Liddell and expect to see the other ARENA funded grid-forming batteries reach similar milestones in 2024.”

AGL’s Managing Director and CEO, Damien Nicks, said: “We are excited to approve another major grid battery project in our development pipeline, supporting the local economy and creating energy transition jobs at our Hunter Energy Hub.”

Prior to the Large Scale Battery Storage Funding Round, ARENA has previously provided $81 million in funding for eight grid-scale batteries, including five with grid-forming capability at a smaller scale. This included the 150 MW / 300 MWh Riverina Battery at Darlington Point and the 150 MW / 194 MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, which are currently the largest operating grid-forming batteries in Australia.

The previous projects have highlighted the potential of grid-forming batteries and the need to support further projects at a larger scale to build experience with the technology, de-risk investment and drive further innovation from inverter manufacturers.

AGL’s Liddell battery will begin construction in early 2024.

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