Australia’s Largest Energy Storage System To Be Built

MPower has won a US$2 million contract to build Australia’s largest grid-connected energy storage system.
Published: Thu 08 Jan 2015

Tag Pacific, a Sydney-based energy investment company, has won a deal to deliver Australia’s largest grid-connected energy storage system. It is suspected that the system will be operated alongside the University of Queensland-owned 3.275MW Gatton solar power plant in south-east Queensland. Gatton is being designed as a new major test centre for solar and storage in Australia.

Proving the viability of large-scale energy storage

Tag’s wholly-owned power business MPower won the US$2 million battery storage project. According to MPower, the contract calls for around 800kWh of lithium-ion battery storage.

MPower’s managing director of the project, Anthony Csillag says that the energy storage solution is unique when it comes to the scale, flexibility and capability being built into the management and control systems. He explains, “It allows programmability to cater for a wide variety of scenarios. The project will demonstrate the viability of energy storage for large-scale solar power plant applications, and the benefits it can provide distribution networks, in the delivery of a predictable, reliable and constant flow of electricity.”

He adds: “Some power distribution assets are capacity-constrained during peak power consumption periods. We believe MPower’s energy storage system will be able to offset the peak demand at a fraction of the capital cost involved in upgrading the power distribution infrastructure.”

MPower specializes mainly in remote and off-grid solar plus storage hybrid systems so the new grid-connected storage project is a first for the company.

Energy storage critical for mining

According to Tag Pacific’s CEO and managing director Nathan Wise, energy storage has been identified by the company as a high growth market. He adds that MPower is expected to become a market leader in energy storage.

MPower is also working with Rio Tinto and First Solar in the isolated town of Weipa, Queensland, to build an ARENA-supported 1.7MW solar PV project which will provide power to a remote bauxite mining operation. The capacity is expected to be increased to 6.7MW.

Wise says that this construction role is an important first step in the development of large-scale solar power projects for the mining sector. He adds that many people will be watching the Weipa project closely as it offers a “very good reference for what could be done in the mining industry.” He adds, “There’s a lot of opportunity (in Australia’s mining industry). The question is how quickly that will come to fruition.”

Wise said that while Tag was working on a large number of opportunities across renewables and energy storage in Australia, a more certain renewables policy would be welcomed. Engerati wrote recently about the government’s plans to reduce or even abolish the country’s renewables targets.[Engerati – Australia’s Government Unsettles Renewable Energy Developers.] Despite the uncertainty around government policies, AGL Energy Ltd, one of Australia’s leading integrated energy companies, is leading a AU$1.03 Million (US$0.9 million) project aimed at examining the role of medium to large scale (5-30MW) energy storage in the integration of renewable energy into the South Australian electricity system. [Engerati – Business Case For Energy Storage To Be Developed in South Australia.]

Tag is also looking at opportunities in Australia’s neighbouring Pacific Islands. ‘There’s a fair bit of opportunity there. We specialise in off-grid, hybrid energy storage and there is more of that kind of hybrid system needed in the Pacific Islands, where you are pricing projects against the cost of diesel.” [Engerati – Spotlight on South Pacific – On The Way To A Clean Energy Future.]