Syncline unveils 2,400MWh big battery storage project near Melbourne

Australian renewable energy and now battery storage developer Syncline Energy has unveiled plans for a 600MW four hour battery storage facility in Victoria, upping the ante over what might be the biggest battery project in the state, or even the country.

Syncline proposes the 600MW/2,400MWh Melton Renewable Energy Hub to be located next to the Sydenham terminal station owned and operated by network company Ausnet, where it will connect into the state’s main 500kV transmission backbone.

The Melton battery is the latest in a growing number of increasingly ambitious battery storage projects in Victoria, and in other states.

Currently the biggest battery in the country, the 300MW/450MWh Victoria Big Battery owned by Neoen is under construction, although its commissioning may face some delays as a result of the blaze in two of the Tesla Megapack containers late last month.[1]

AGL has plans for a 200MW/800MWh battery at the site of its Loy Yang A brown coal generator, and Tilt (now owned by PowAR) is looking at a similar sized battery elsewhere in the Latrobe Valley, as is EnergyAustralia, which is talking of a 350MW/1,400MWh big battery to help replace the Yallourn generator.[2][3]

Other big battery proposals have been unveiled by Maoneng on the Mornington Peninsular (240MW./480MWh, which could be built by the end of 2022,[4] and by network company Powercor, which has proposed up to 20 big batteries[5] scattered around its distributed networks.

Lumea, a subsidiary of Transgrid, is also proposing a 300MW/580MWh big battery[6] at another sub-station in what will be known as the Deer Park Energy Hub, west of Tullamarine airport.

See RenewEconomy’s Big Battery Storage Map of Australia[7]

The goal of these big battery installations is to provide dispatchable capacity as coal and gas plants retire, and to provide the grid services to support the number of renewable energy zones that will be created around the grid.

Most big battery projects are now focused on four hours of storage to cover the extended morning and evening peaks, but may end up – like AGL at the Torrens Island battery – starting off with one hour of storage to focus on the grid services market before expanding storage capacity to time shift renewables.

Syncline CEO Phil Galloway notes that there has been a rule of thumb around the value “arbitrage” and firming for big batteries, which is that if the first hour of storage is worth $100 (for the sake of illustration), the second hour would be worth $50, the third hour $25, and so on.

But Galloway is confident that the siting of the Melton battery at a critical juncture in the grid, and its access to a 500kV transmission line, means that the pot of revenue will be bigger than otherwise, although he does not rule out a change of configuration as the market evolves.

It intends to provide inertia, grid forming and voltage support directly into the transmission backbone which runs from the Latrobe Valley to the South Australian Interconnector.

The Melton battery would be located just 25 km from Melbourne’s CBD and would include a 12.5MWp solar farm, whose main purpose would be to supply the battery’s ancillary cooling loads and ensure low cost and ‘net-zero’ operations.

The site secured by Syncline (see artist’s rendition above) covers more than 90Ha of land which delivers battery cube spacing and buffer areas that would not normally be possible on the urban fringe of a major city.

He says AEMO has registered Melton as an intending market participant and the project has completed the preliminary connection enquiry stages.  The Connection Application process is underway with the grid capacity studies complete.

Galloway says financial close is expected in the second quarter of next year, with production commencing in the third quarter of calendar 2023 to support the network over that summer.

“The scale and Melbourne location of our Melton Renewable Energy Hub project is designed to help ‘fix the grid’ as increasingly unreliable coal fired power stations are replaced by lower cost, but intermittent solar and wind generation,” Galloway said in a statement.

“We will also help store excess rooftop solar that is generated on sunny days by Melbourne’s households.

“Our mission is to be the lowest cost provider in the National Energy Market of ‘firming services’ to major energy retailers, renewable energy projects and large energy consumers.

“The business model is similar to Data Centres which lease their data storage infrastructure to a range of different busines types and customers.”

Galloway says Syncline is also looking at the site to use ‘second life’ batteries from cars and busses in its energy storage array, which would be a first for Australia if realised.

Syncline developed the 110MW Bannerton solar farm in Victoria, before selling the project to Foresight Solar, and expects a similar outcome with the Melton battery.

“The dream outcome is to work directly with capital (such as superannuation funds). The right owner will have long term investment horizon and the right cost of capital.”

For more information about battery storage projects in Australia, see RenewEconomy’s Big Battery Storage Map of Australia.[8]

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