Latest News, Western Australia

Regional program receives funding to trial battery tech in WA

The Regional Microgrids Program has been awarded $2.85 million in funding to trial two novel long duration energy storage technologies at remote microgrids in Western Australia.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.85 million in funding to this program.

Horizon Power, Western Australia’s regional energy provider, will install and trial Redflow’s zinc bromine flow battery (100 kW / 400 kWh) and BASF’s sodium sulphur battery (250 kW / 1,450 kWh) on Western Australian microgrids in Nullagine and Carnarvon, respectively.

The project will test each battery’s ability to shift rooftop solar electricity produced in the middle of the day to evening hours as well as demonstrate hybrid operability alongside lithium-ion batteries for optimal network service delivery.

ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said there is a need to find new sources of medium and long duration dispatchable renewable energy storage.

“Renewable dispatchable technologies such as solar PV and wind combined with lithium-ion battery energy storage systems, and pumped hydro are well established, however, there are characteristics of each that may not be suited to all locations, particularly in locations with extreme heat,” said Miller.

Horizon Power has a number of lithium-ion batteries installed on networks it operates, however, has identified a need for longer duration energy storage technologies to be included in its portfolio.

Horizon Power chief executive officer Stephanie Unwin said, “We are really excited about these ground-breaking trials which will support Australia’s carbon emissions reduction targets, while making renewables more accessible for our regional and remote customers.”

The ability of zinc bromine flow batteries and sodium sulphur batteries to withstand higher ambient temperatures over long periods, whilst maintaining reliable power with a lower degradation, is particularly important in remote community microgrids and is a distinct advantage over current lithium-ion technology.

“Our latest trials will continue our exploration of Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) technologies which are suitable for withstanding the extreme temperatures of our regions, providing valuable insights which will support with future deployment of the batteries in our regions,” said Unwin.

If the trial is successful, Horizon Power’s $5.7 million project will validate the technical viability of zinc bromine and sodium sulphur batteries in remote microgrids, reduce the risk in future deployments, and help to accelerate the rollout of Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) across Horizon Power’s 34 service areas.

“Horizon Power’s project, if proven successful, could see these innovative battery technologies become an important part of our energy mix in regional communities,” said Miller.

The BASF battery will also be the first of its kind connected to a regulated network and a DERMS platform in Australia.

The 2023 CSIRO Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap highlighted Australia’s need to rapidly develop a pipeline of projects across a variety of energy storage technologies given the limited range of commercially mature energy storage options currently available.

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