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A New and Improved 'Big Battery' for the Darwin-Katherine Electricity Grid

14 Dec 2021 2:02 PM | Stephanie Berlin (Administrator)

The Territory Labor Government knows that investing in renewables delivers clean, affordable and reliable energy for Territorians, attracts new private investment and creates more local jobs.

Today, a major step has been made towards the Labor Government’s 50% Renewable Energy Target. The tender has been awarded for the 35MVA (megavolt amps) Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System (DK BESS) – a ‘big battery’ – for the Darwin-Katherine grid, which will deliver cost savings of around $9.8 million per year. The DK BESS is expected to pay for itself in approximately five years.

Global technology leader Hitachi Energy is committed to advancing a sustainable energy future for all. With customers in the utility, industry and infrastructure sectors and a 30-year history in the Territory, Hitachi Energy will deliver the major components of the $45 million DK BESS to be built and located at Territory Generation’s Channel Island Power Station. 

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System provides energy to 150,000 Territorians, and one in six customers have roof top solar panels. Customers are using more of their own solar generation to power their homes and businesses during the day rather than using traditional generation.

The $45 million DK BESS is the first step towards reducing the use of gas generators for the Darwin-Katherine system. It will unlock further capacity for households to connect their rooftop PV or for industry to invest into lower cost solar systems for the commercial and industrial operations. The DK BESS will use Hitachi Energy’s virtual synchronous machine technology to replace the existing thermal generation. 

The revised battery specifications offer increased storage capacity capable of delivering energy and services for longer than the original design. The battery will be online continuously, replacing one gas-fired generating unit.

Major benefits of the DK BESS include:

  • Significantly reduced carbon emissions for the Territory. Reducing the need for gas-fired spinning reserve can deliver both cost savings of around $9.8 million and emissions reductions of about 58,000 tonnes per annum.
  • Replaces a Frame 6 generating unit in providing contingency generation for power system events.
  • Inertia from the battery will increase stability and reliability of the power supply. Fluctuations caused by the intermittency of solar energy can be managed quickly and efficiently.

Ongoing jobs and further training opportunities will be provided with the establishment of the DK BESS, supporting 25 local jobs during the build. 

Producing a BESS for the Darwin-Katherine electricity grid is a major part of the recently announced Territory Labor Government Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan, and fits into the Governments ‘Ready’ stage of the plan. It is also a cornerstone investment of Territory Generation’s Fleet Transition.

Construction will commence in 2022 with the DK BESS expected to be operational in 2023. 

Quotes from Chief Minister, Michael Gunner:

“We’ve backed renewables and so have Territorians - they know renewables deliver cleaner, cheaper and secure power.

“The cutting-edge technology in our Battery Energy Storage System will reinforce the Northern Territory as the solar capital and comeback capital of Australia. The BESS will store power and be the backbone of the Darwin to Katherine Electricity grid which keeps the lights on for 150,000 Territorians. 

“The Territory Labor Government is backing Territorians, solar and lower prices to get it done.”

Quotes from Minister for Renewables and Energy, Eva Lawler:

“The awarding of the BESS tender is a huge step forward in our plan for 50% renewables by 2030 – it is the cornerstone of our Darwin-Katherine System Plan.

“We want Territorians to have access to the latest and best technology as we build a stronger and more resilient power system for Territory households and businesses. Our electricity will be reliable and stable, while also being affordable for Territorians. 

“Renewables are the way forward, this is why we are investing in the BESS and hydrogen powered generators so we can have clean and efficient energy which helps us reach our renewables and net zero emission targets.”

Quotes from Territory Generation CEO, Gerhard Laubscher:

“Territory Generation is proud to be delivering on the Government’s Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan by installing the first of the region’s high specification security batteries.

“The Darwin-Katherine battery is a cornerstone of Territory Generation’s Fleet Transition. It is key to unlocking flexibility in our fleet to better manage the increasing impacts of solar on the system.”

Quotes from Hitachi Energy in Australia, Country Managing Director, Bernard Norton:

“Together with the Northern Territory Government and Territory Generation, we are enabling the Territory to meet ambitious renewable energy targets, by harnessing abundant solar resources, and move towards a carbon-neutral energy future.

“Hitachi Energy’s battery energy storage solution will be part of an intelligent electrical ecosystem and ensure full utilisation of solar energy generation and less reliance on fossil fuels.

“This battery energy storage system will allow greater penetration of renewable energy in the Territory, helping to ensure a sustainable, flexible and secure energy system for today’s generations and those to come.”.”

Source: NTG Newsroom

Eva Lawler 

Minister for Renewables and Energy

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