The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a competitive A $ 100 million round of funding for grid-scale batteries. While the battery technology is independent, the projects must be equipped with advanced inverter technology.
December 30, 2021
Australia aims to accelerate the demonstration of advanced inverter capabilities in large-scale battery projects as it continues to seek new ways to stabilize the electricity system and enable the grid to operate with a higher proportion of intermittent renewables.
Building on its previous investments in both grid-scale batteries and systems security, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will now allocate A $ 100 million ($ 73 million) to further research into grid-forming inverters that enable utility batteries can ensure system stability Services that are traditionally provided by synchronous generation, such as coal or gas.
The new ARENA program, called Large-Scale Battery Storage Funding Round, will fund grid-based batteries of 70 MW or more that operate on the National Electricity Market or the Wholesale Electricity Market of Western Australia. In addition to supporting new construction projects, it also supports existing grid-scale batteries that want to retrofit advanced inverter capabilities or expand an existing or promised battery by building a new adjacent project and integrate advanced inverter functions into both the existing and new systems.
The funding round is expected to support at least three projects with a maximum of A $ 35 million per project. Applications will be open for all battery storage technologies as long as they are equipped with advanced inverters, according to ARENA.
Demonstration on a scale
The round of funding aims to incentivize and limit private sector investment and overcome barriers to the use of advanced inverter technology. By funding advanced inverter technology on a large scale, ARENA hopes to provide valuable insight into the operation and new capabilities of advanced inverters.
"Grid-scale batteries and other types of energy storage technologies will be critical to supporting our future renewable electricity system," said Darren Miller, CEO of ARENA. "This round of funding will demonstrate the role of advanced inverters in grid-scale batteries to ensure system stability, facilitate a more efficient transition and accelerate the use of renewable energy."
Unlike traditional grid-connected inverters, which synchronize their output with grid voltage waveforms, advanced or grid-forming inverters can set their own frequencies without the inertia created by large rotating pieces of hardware. This enables them to supply the grid with virtual inertia, which replaces the mechanical inertia traditionally provided by synchronous generators, while reducing the current limitation of PV and wind generation.
The ARENA funding initiative follows the publication of the Application of Advanced Grid-scale Inverters by the Australian energy market operator in the NEM report, which highlights the great potential of this technology. The report identifies four key application areas for advanced inverters – including connecting inverter-based resources in weak grids, supporting system security, islanding, and system restart.
Consistent with the findings, the paper provides clear recommendations for immediate action to take advantage of the opportunities offered by advanced inverters, including opportunities for new grid-scale batteries.
"More funding and assistance is needed to support as many new grid-scale battery installations as possible, to incorporate grid-building capabilities to build a fleet that can support the transition to high IBR penetration by 2025, "said AEMO.
Another recent study from Powerlink Queensland found that batteries with advanced inverters can play a valuable role in maintaining system strength and complement the use of synchronous capacitors. The study has shown that grid-forming batteries can play a constructive role in enabling renewable energies and supporting the operation of the electricity system. It turned out that a 100 MW battery can support the connection of 300 MW to inverter-based generation, specifically for the individual case examined.
Currently, Australia's largest grid-connected battery with advanced inverter technology is another ARENA-funded project – the 30MW / 8MWh of the Dalrymple ESCRI battery on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula. However, this will soon be overshadowed by the 150 MW / 193.5 MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve, also known as the Tesla Big Battery, also in South Australia, once it completes its advanced inverter upgrades.
Earlier this year, the Australian utility company AGL broke ground for the 250MW / 250MWh Torrens Island battery, which is touted as the largest planned grid-forming battery in the world. The system initially starts with a runtime of one hour (250 MWh), but can be extended to up to four hours (1000 MWh) in the future. Torrens Island's battery is supplied by Finnish technology company Wartsila and uses over 100 inverters with grid-forming capabilities supplied by Germany-based company SMA.
In the latest ARENA funding round, expressions of interest will be opened in February with the deadline of March 31. Selected projects will be invited to submit full applications later in the year.
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