Acen wins approval to build Australia’s biggest battery


The New England region of New South Wales is to host Australia’s biggest battery yet, after renewables developer Acen Australia won approval to boost the size of its New England solar battery to a massive 1.4GW (1,400 MW) and 2.8 GWh, or two hours of storage.

The battery, which is being built alongside Acen’s huge 720MW New England solar farm, was originally approved as a 200MW, two-hour facility, but this week got the all-clear from the state government to be super-sized.

If built to that capacity it will surpass the 850 MW/1680 MWh Waratah Super battery and the newly announced 500 MW/2000 MWh Collie battery in Western Australia.

Origin Energy’s planned Eraring battery is sized at 700 MW and 2800 MWh (or four hours storage), although the first stage is set to be smaller at 460 MW and 920 MWh.

“An application to modify the development consent for the project has now been approved by the Department of Planning and Environment, which includes an increase to its battery energy storage capacity of 1,400MW/2hr, or 2,800 megawatt hours,” a company statement says.

“The modification also includes some changes to Stage 2 of the solar project area, helping to optimise the project, and move it another step towards construction.”

The battery will be built alongside what is the biggest solar farm in Australia, at least for the time being. The first 400 MW stage of which was launched in March, east of Uralla on the lands of the Anaiwan and Gumbaynggirr people.

The boosted battery storage capacity will play a critical role in securing energy supply across New South Wales, as coal power is being phased out from the grid, Acen Australia CEO Anton Rohner said.

“The state’s ageing coal fired generators are due to close over the next 20 years; large battery energy storage systems like these are critical in replacing that capacity with on-demand energy,” Rohner said.

Michael Connarty, Acen Australia’s manager of strategy and stakeholder engagement, says Acen has not yet settled on a technology supplier or partner to build the battery, and will go through a process to find the best fit for this particular BESS in this particular area, while also working up the finances for the project.

“We see that there’s a need for a lot of this technology, whether it’s large-scale batteries, pumped hydro or wind, solar, and transmission,” he says.

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