Australian state of Victoria switches on the biggest battery in the southern hemisphere to provide clean power to one million homes during blackouts
Australia has turned on the biggest battery in the southern hemisphere, designed to ensure that homes in the state of Victoria remain powered during blackouts, or in times of heavy demand on the local grid.
The idea of the 300-megawatt battery facility, which began operations on Wednesday, is that it will store energy generated from renewable but intermittent sources, such as solar or wind.
Green power on tap
Tech giants are already doing this.
Apple for in April this year, during its update on its progress to ensure its supply chain and products are carbon neutral by 2030, revealed it was constructing one of the largest battery projects in the United States, at California Flats.
That 130-megawatt solar farm is capable of storing 240 megawatt-hours of energy, by using Tesla’s Megapack at its battery-based renewable energy storage facility.
And in Australia, the Victorian Big Battery will allow utility firms to prevent blackouts by providing a source of energy storage.
The facility has enough capacity to power one million homes for half an hour, it has been reported.
Lily D’Ambrosio, Australia’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, said in a tweet on Wednesday in Australia, “I was delighted to join @NEOEN_AU, @AEMO_Energy @Tesla and @johnerenmp today to flick the switch on the 300 MW Victorian Big Battery. Victoria’s the nation’s home of Big Batteries – and this is the jewel in the crown.”
D’Ambrosio also told the Australian daily newspaper The Age, that 80 percent of the system’s capacity will be reserved for moments when Victoria’s power supply is under high stress.
It should be noted that that local area apparently utilises old coal-fired generators that are increasingly prone to failure.
In those situations, the Victorian Big Battery should be able to power more than 650,000 homes for an hour.
This doesn’t sound like very long, but national grids are required to deliver a certain level of power at all times to avoid blackouts.
Reserves of easily accessible power can play a vital role to ensure demand does not exceed the available threshold on the local power grid.
Facilities such as the Victorian Big Battery could thus be suitable in other locations with patchy power generation capabilities.
South Africa for example, where the local state-run power utility Eskom is bankrupt after years of corruption and mismanagement, could well benefit from facilities such as these, coupled to solar farms, in order to prevent the ongoing power outages that have plagued that nation for more than a decade.
CNBC meanwhile reported that before the Victorian Big Battery was switched on, it suffered a fire in July this year that impacted two of the Tesla Megapacks.
There were no injuries, but the fire triggered a toxic air alert to surrounding neighbourhoods.
Neoen reportedly said afterwards that Tesla took “mitigating actions” based on a root cause analysis conducted jointly. Tesla made changes to its Megapack firmware and monitoring systems at the site, Neoen said at the time.