National electricity retailer AGL has enlisted the help of four big batteries in what it claims is “the dawn of the battery age”.
Although it could be argued that Australia is already in the “mid-morning of the battery age” — the dawn being Tesla’s 2017 Big Battery in SA — AGL’s decision is still significant.
It indicates an appetite for renewable power by a major player that owns generators including the NSW Liddell coal-fired station.
AGL has signed a 15-year contract with the Maoneng Group to build four large-scale batteries in NSW. These will provide 200MW/400MWh of on-call power to AGL between 2023 and 2038.
This could supply 30,000 homes at peak demand times or when wind or solar input is low, the company says.
Batteries firm up renewable energy capacity
Bringing Chinese investment to Australian renewables, Maoneng is also building the battery at Sunraysia Solar Farm near Balranald, NSW. In addition, it operates the 13MW Mugga Lane Solar Park in the ACT.
Under the new contract, AGL can draw power from the Maoneng batteries at a fixed price for 15 years, “thereby locking in a price on the cost of electricity for that period”.
AGL CEO Brett Redman said the agreement heralds a new era for Australia’s National Electricity Market.
“This is the dawn of the battery age and AGL is proud to lead the way,” he said.
“Australia’s energy market is undergoing significant changes and large-scale batteries like these will be pivotal in providing firming capacity in the shift between baseload power and renewables.
“This will present huge benefits for energy customers and the stability of the energy market. In total, this will help support an additional 200MW of dispatchable capacity in New South Wales.”
Residential battery storage benefits
As AGL combines solar energy with battery storage at a national level, Australians are doing the same at home.
Solar batteries cost a lot more than solar panels but are an important defence against low feed-in tariffs.
In NSW, the feed-in tariff per kWh of electricity from solar panels into the grid can be as little as 8.5c. In fact, some retailers don’t even offer a feed-in tariff.
Compare 8.5c with the cost of paying for electricity and it makes sense to store excess solar power for later. One popular battery system designed for this is the Tesla Powerwall 2.
Another way to keep prices down is to tailor your rooftop solar system so it exactly meets your power needs.
Figuring this out can get complicated, especially as good feed-in tariffs from some retailers do justify uploading your solar power.
It’s worth talking with one of our solar and storage experts about all the variables, so that you come out ahead with lower bills and cleaner electricity.