Akaysha Energy 850 MW/1680 MWh Battery Coming To New South Wales
Remember when Tesla installed a 100 MW/129 MWh Hornsdale battery in South Australia in 2017? At the time, it was the biggest battery in Australia and one of the largest in the world. My, how the world has changed. Akaysha Energy, a relative newcomer in the field of energy storage, has announced it will build an 850 MW/1680 MWh battery in New South Wales, Australia. That’s equivalent to the output from a large thermal generating station.
It’s not scheduled to go into service until 2025, but unless someone else comes along between now and then, the so-called Waratah Super Battery will be the largest energy storage facility in the world. It will sit on the former location of the Munmorah coal plant, which was demolished in 2017. Once completed, it will help replace the electricity that will be no longer be available after the Eraring thermal generating station — Australia’s largest coal plant — is shuttered in 2025.
“We believe a successful shift to a more sustainable energy future is dependent on the use of large-scale battery storage,” Akaysha managing director Nick Carter told Canary Media this week. “In fact, utility scale energy storage technologies are very helpful in mitigating the variability of renewable generation as well as deliver grid reliability and resilience to the power system networks across the world.” The Waratah Super Battery represents the most significant attempt to date to shut down coal-fired plants and replace them with storage batteries for renewable energy.
While the amount of renewable energy has surged in recent years, Australia’s transmission grid has limited ability to handle momentary surges in production in one area and distribute it to other population centers. The Waratah battery will store renewable energy, but that is not its primary mission. Instead, it will maintain grid reliability by instantly discharging its massive capacity in the event of disruptions caused by lightning strikes or bush fires. Having that in place allows the transmission lines to move more electricity throughout the day because if a given line trips off, the battery will be there to fill in the gap, according to Carter.
“This project is a great example of how existing transmission infrastructure can be more optimally used in the face of rapid renewable generation growth and the decline in synchronous thermal generation,” he added. “By unlocking the excess network capacity, both existing and new renewable generators will supply more reliable and stable energy to the families and businesses of New South Wales.”
New Kid On The Block Hits A Home Run
It’s rare to see a company secure a contract to build a huge battery project without having actually built a battery project, but that’s what Akaysha has done. It may be new, but it has experienced leadership at the helm. Managing director Nick Carter was previously with the energy technology division of Macquarie Group, which was an early investor in grid storage assets. Before that, he sold utility scale storage for Tesla and was involved in the Hornsdale Power Reserve project in South Australia.
Besides project finance and development, Akaysha team members have worked with autonomous bidding software and market modeling and optimization, all of which are crucial to performing in Australia’s competitive power market.
In August, BlackRock bought Akaysha outright on the strength of its team and pipeline of pending projects and pledged to invest $700 million in the Australian grid battery space through Akaysha as its development platform. The Waratah facility will be installed by Consolidated Power Projects Australia, an experienced engineering, procurement, and construction contractor that built the Hornsdale battery.
Batteries As Transmission Infrastructure
In many areas of the world, the path from coal to renewables often involves the use of natural gas-fired generating stations. But areas like New South Wales are going straight from coal to a combination of renewables and batteries, skipping decades of investment in gas-fired generators. The contract for the Waratha Super Battery was not structured like that of a typical power plant but rather as a “virtual transmission solution that will increase the transmission capacity of the existing network.” This will pave the way for the new renewable generation planned for New South Wales.
Treating batteries as transmission infrastructure is a relatively new concept, Canary Media says. Building one of the world’s biggest batteries will help New South Wales manage its surges in renewable generation despite its limited transmission and storage infrastructure.
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