Agreement signed for 400 MWh BESS next to one of Australia’s biggest solar projects

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An agreement has been signed for the development of a 400 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) next to New England, one of Australia’s biggest solar projects. The agreement was signed between Acen Australia and Marubeni Corporation in Melbourne during the Philippine Business Forum held ahead of the ASEAN conference.

ACEN Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACEN, the listed energy platform of the Ayala group. Marubeni Corporation on the other hand is a major Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate.

The agreement commits the parties involved to work together on a 50-50 basis on the delivery of the 200 MW, two-hour (400 MWh) battery project at an estimated cost of $A250 million. Reportedly, the BESS has the potential for “significant future expansion.”

The 400 MWh BESS project next to one of Australia’s biggest solar projects is set to be completed by 2025 with the support of host landholders, First Nations, and the Uralla community. Once complete, the BESS will reportedly be one of the nation’s largest co-located solar and battery energy storage facilities.

Alongside the partnership agreement, a connection contract was also signed with Lumea, a subsidiary of Transgrid and an essential energy infrastructure services provider building competitive and innovative pathways to shape Australia’s energy future.

Speaking on this contract, Brett Redman the head of Transgrid, said that it’s a very big step forward in the transition to renewables and for Australian consumers who will be the main beneficiaries of access to cheaper and cleaner energy.

David Pollington, Acen Australia’s managing director, on the other hand, said that the battery storage system shall enable energy to be stored and made available to the grid when it is needed.

Overview of one of Australia’s biggest solar projects

New England solar power plant is one of Australia’s biggest solar projects with a planned capacity of 720MW. The project is being developed in two phases (stages 1 and 2) on a 2,000-hectare site of mostly cleared grazing land located near Uralla in New South Wales. Particularly, the project is being developed in the New England Renewable Energy Zone.

The zone is a part of the NSW state government’s AUD 79 million plan to deliver new energy infrastructure in a bid to lower electricity costs, create jobs and ensure the region becomes a key area for renewable energy investment.

Stage one of the New England solar power plant comprises the development of a 400MW solar farm and a 33/330-kilovolt substation. SMEC completed geotechnical investigations, feasibility studies and pile design for this phase of the project in 2020.

The company was subsequently engaged to develop the concept through to a detailed design in 2021. The scope of work included early works and technical support across geotechnical, environmental, civil, structural, and electrical disciplines.

Fast forward to 2023, Stage 1 of the New England solar power plant commenced generating clean, renewable electricity in NSW and Queensland. Stage 2 which comprises the development of an additional 320MW solar farm and a 200MW/2-hour battery will start construction in 2024.

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