Victoria’s Big Battery

By Paul Homewood

 

I mentioned the fire at Victoria’s new big battery project yesterday. It’s worth taking a closer look at its business case:

 

 

  image

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/teslas-big-battery-goes-up-in-smoke/

 

When the project was first announced last year, the Victorian Government claimed that it would help the state meet its renewable energy target of 50% by 2030. The Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio said that the "humongous" battery was an important part of delivering on the state government’s plan to move to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

This myth is widely held, that batteries like this one can store power when the sun shines and the wind blows, and release it when renewable generation is low.

In fact the “Big Battery” is rated at 300 MW, and can only store 377 MWh of usable energy. Average load on the Australian grid is 30 GW. In other words, in theory it could supply Australian demand for less than a minute. This battery, and even many more like it, cannot store enough electricity to fulfil demand as claimed, for instance at night when there is no solar power.

The official fact sheet from the Victorian Government makes this clear:

image

 https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/renewable-energy/the-victorian-big-battery/the-victorian-big-battery-q-and-a

 

Its sole role is to provide short term balancing, to meet spikes in demand or sudden dips in generation, typically for just a few minutes until dispatchable generation can be brought on line. This is, of course, a vital component of any grid, and batteries can certainly play their part along with other small peaker generation, such as diesel and gas engines.

With this particular project, its main purpose is to enable the NSW-Victoria Interconnector to run nearer to full capacity, as the Business Case explains:

 

 image

https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/renewable-energy/the-victorian-big-battery

 

In other words, this battery project is a bit of a one off, to allow Victoria to make greater use of coal power from NSW!

 

The cost of the Big Battery is $12.5 million a year, index linked over its expected life of 11 years, ie £137.5 million at current prices, equivalent to £73 million. The Business Case expects a return on this investment, because of the value of the grid balancing it provides.

But what it will not do is store energy to cater for intermittent renewables.

For the record, Australia still gets 79% of its electricity from fossil fuels, and just 14% from wind and solar:

 

image

BP Energy Review

 

There is not the slightest evidence that the country can manage its grid on much a greater renewable share, regardless of what virtue signalling politicians may say.

FOOTNOTE

The Victorian Government fact sheet also states:

image

 

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July 31, 2021 at 05:21AM

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