15/03/2017 - 12:10

WA players set to battle Elon Musk for SA battery project

15/03/2017 - 12:10

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Australian Vanadium has joined fellow Perth company Carnegie Clean Energy in hoping to help solve South Australia’s energy crisis, today committing to tender to build a battery storage facility in that state.

WA players set to battle Elon Musk for SA battery project
Australian Vanadium managing director Vince Algar is arguing the case for vanadium flow batteries. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Australian Vanadium has joined fellow Perth company Carnegie Clean Energy in hoping to help solve South Australia’s energy crisis, today committing to tender to build a battery storage facility in that state.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday announced a $150 million renewable technology fund, which he said would pay for the construction of a 100-megawatt battery storage facility.

Australian Vanadium subsidiary VSun Energy has a distribution agreement for vanadium flow batteries with Austrian battery manufacturer Gildemiester, and has previously installed capacity at a property near Busselton.

The company's managing director, Vincent Algar, said vanadium flow batteries were suited for backup power supplies because they could provide three-phase power used in manufacturing.

One vanadium battery facility is already being built in the Dalian, China, with capacity of 800MW hours.

That is reported to be the world's largest battery storage facility, while there are pumped hydro storage plants with capacity of up to 3GW.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who is chief executive of electric car company Tesla, has also thrown his hat into the ring, saying he could solve the problem in 100 days or would donate the batteries for free.

Australian Vanadium's announcement is just two days after ASX-listed Carnegie Clean Energy said it had been in discussions with the SA government to provide battery storage for the state’s network. 

Carnegie managing director Michael Ottaviano said SA had led the country in development of renewable energy and now needed significant storage capability to stabilise the network.

In September last year, almost the entirety of South Australia suffered a blackout after a storm knocked out a series of transmission lines.

That, combined with frequency volatility of renewable generation, led the Australian Energy Market Operator to shut down the state’s generators to avoid system damage.

The state has suffered more power issues in the period since.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in February he had directed the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation to commence a funding round for large-scale storage and flexible capacity projects, such as pumped hydro.

The two organisations then opened an expression of interest process to fund potential storage options.

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