The recent announcement that the world’s largest lithium-ion battery will be installed in South Australia by the end of 2017 is lending rare optimism to proponents of utility scale battery storage around the world.
This feat is expected to transform and fast track reliable renewable energy not only in Australia, but also around the world where this form of energy, while highly desired, remains short of guaranteeing dispatchable electric supply whenever needed.
Under an agreement with the South Australian Government, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla, and the French renewable energy group Neoen, the battery, three times more powerful than any other system in the world, will be designed to provide power to the grid at times of generation shortfall, as well as providing stability to the network, day and night.
“The coupling of renewable energy with large scale battery storage is a fundamental requirement for an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy future for Australia,” says Dr Alex Wonhas, managing director, Energy, Resources & Manufacturing of global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon.
“South Australia is now set to lead the charge in battery storage that will, in turn, revolutionise the way in which renewable energy is integrated into electricity networks.”
Aurecon is the Specialist and Technical Engineering Advisor to the Government of South Australia for the implementation of its Energy Plan. The company is providing advice across the entire programme, including the 100 MW battery, emergency gas generator and power supply contracts.
The last July announcement of the world’s largest lithium ion grid connected battery system at 100 MW/129 MWh is the culmination of three months of intensive work by Aurecon.
This included evaluation and shortlisting of expression of interest submissions, development of the technical and functional requirements of the system and invitation to supply documents, evaluation of respondent proposals and negotiations to enable the final contract to be signed.
Aurecon also supported the Government to engage with various stakeholders, including the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and South Australian transmission and distribution network service providers, in order to identify and advise on grid connection and registration matters.
“As engineers design for the future, technology and innovative solutions like this will be imperative to meeting tomorrow’s challenges,” says Dr Wonhas, who was previously Executive Director for CSIRO’s environment, energy and resources sector.
He goes on to say that in future, the role of the engineer will be to interrogate impossible challenges, including that of energy supply; and to answer “I think we can!” when others have said it’s impossible.
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