The powerful little territory that hosts the nation’s capital knows that storage is an essential ingredient if it is to reach its target of 100% renewables.

The ACT Government has set its ambitions on adding 250MW of battery storage within its boundaries, to help it achieve its target of net zero emissions. The first stage of the project will begin with a “market sounding” pre-procurement process to understand how a large-scale battery can be incorporated in the territory. The storage capacity will be shared among a variously-sized assets at different locations.

The aggregate storage will provide power to reduce pressure on the grid, reduce electricity prices as more households in the ACT move to renewable energy and electric vehicles, and generate new revenue opportunities for the territory government.

In an introduction to interested parties, the ACT Government’s co-ordinator general for climate action Sam Engele says the project represents an open brief. “[The project] may deliver several batteries with a variety of capacities through one or many organisations,” he says. “This may include a small number of large-scale batteries (50MW-plus), as well as a larger number of smaller, ‘precinct-scale’ batteries.”

Batteries could be connected to the ACT’s transmission or distribution network, located at government sites such as bus depots or co-located with large-scale renewable generation in the ACT.

Energy ecosystem

The government is hoping its $100 million investment in a battery “ecosystem” will deliver a return on investment from provision of grid services and energy arbitrage opportunities, along with improved grid reliability, a lowering of energy prices and support for the grid as demand for electricity increases.

“Battery storage technology varies in size, location and core use,” ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said. “The market sounding process will allow industry and key stakeholder input on the range of possible services and infrastructure ahead of the procurement phase of the project.

“The aim of the Big Canberra Battery storage project is to increase network reliability by reducing pressure and congestion on the grid, better integrate the increasing supply of renewable energy in the network, reduce electricity price spikes and generate new revenue opportunities for the ACT.”

A co-design workshop with stakeholders will explore delivery options, outline the role of government and cover system design considerations and other relevant issues.

The market sounding process will close on May 7.

Additional charge

The new battery capacity will be additional to the storage included in the territory’s renewable electricity reverse auction last year, where 200MW of new generation will flow from Neoen’s Stage 1 Goyder South Wind Farm in South Australia and GPG’s Stage 2 Berrybank Wind Farm in Victoria.

“This will help Canberra maintain 100% renewable electricity into the next decade, see the construction of two large-scale batteries in Canberra, and deliver the best pricing outcome for residents in the program’s history,” ACT climate change and sustainability minister Shane Rattenbury said at the time.

Neoen and GPG will build large-scale batteries located in Canberra, with the Neoen battery expected to be capable of powering about 15,000 typical homes for an hour in the event of a blackout.

“The batteries will help support the territory’s own grid, particularly providing power to help avoid blackouts during periods of high demand and when large fossil fuel generators fail in heatwave conditions,” Rattenbury said.