The Northern Territory (NT) in Australia has reached a significant milestone in its transition towards renewable energy. The region’s ambitious shift to solar power has taken a major step forward with the installation of a large-scale battery system. This remarkable development not only strengthens the NT’s commitment to sustainability but also enhances its energy storage capabilities, further cementing its position as a leader in renewable energy adoption.
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The “Big Battery” milestone
In a recent announcement, the NT government unveiled the successful completion of a large battery storage system project and the commencement of its testing phase, marking a crucial milestone in the region’s renewable energy transition.
Once operational, the 35MVA battery is expected to replace some of the Channel Island Power Station’s gas-fired power while strengthening the Darwin-Katherine battery energy storage system (DK BESS) to enable more solar. It will reduce carbon emissions in the Territory by approximately 58,000 tonnes per year.
The Northern Territory government has confirmed that all 192 Hitachi Energy batteries, each weighing 3.5 tonnes for the $45 million (USD 29.95 million) Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System (DK BESS) being built adjacent to Territory Generation’s Channel Island Power Station have been installed, and the first stages of pre-commissioning are now underway.
The battery modules will be charged and discharged using the temporary power source in conjunction with an AC/DC power converter before being connected to the 11kV switch room.
The installed battery storage system will store excess electricity generated during periods of low demand and supply it during peak hours when the demand is high. This will help balance the load on the grid, mitigate the risk of blackouts, and enhance the overall reliability of the electricity supply.
The big battery’s network-connected commissioning is set to begin in late 2023, and it is projected to be fully commissioned and operational in the fiscal year 2023-24.
Minister Uibo, Chief Minister Fyles and TGen’s GM Commercial Eddie Mallan
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Attributable quotes from Ministers, CEO and Manager Director
Quotes attributable to Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles:
“Renewable energy makes economic and environmental sense.
“The Territory Labor Government is investing in DK BESS as an important step towards achieving 50 per cent renewable power by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
“Ensuring Territorians have access to affordable electricity is a priority for our Government, as is driving that shift to renewable energy.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Renewables and Energy, Selena Uibo:
“We congratulate Territory Generation and Hitachi Energy upon the successful installation of all batteries and progression to the pre-commissioning stage.
“This battery energy storage system will put about 35MW into the Darwin system, which means we can reduce the gas turbines spinning and reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burnt.
“When operating the big battery is expected to support system security for about 150,000 homes between Darwin and Katherine and it will provide Territorians with greater system reliability and cleaner, green energy.”
Quotes attributable to Territory Generation CEO, Gerhard Laubscher:
“The successful installation of all batteries and progression to pre-commissioning is a significant step forward for the DK BESS.
“We recognise commissioning is a complex and time intensive process, and we are working closely with all stakeholders to support the fastest possible progression of these activities.
“The DK BESS is key to unlocking flexibility in our generation fleet. Once commissioned, it will be online continuously, helping to stabilise the impacts of solar and support the integration of more into the Darwin-Katherine grid.”
Quotes attributable to Hitachi Energy Country Managing Director, Bernard Norton:
“This is a significant milestone in the development of the advanced Hitachi Energy battery energy storage solution that will ensure full utilisation of solar energy generation and less reliance on fossil fuels across the Darwin-Katherine network.
“Through this partnership approach with Territory Generation, Hitachi Energy is helping to solve the challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy generation and accelerating the transition towards a carbon-neutral energy future for all.”
Impacts and benefits
The ‘Big Battery’ project brings a host of benefits to the Northern Territory and its residents:
Grid stability: The integration of a large-scale battery storage system will significantly enhance the stability and resilience of the Darwin-Katherine electricity grid. The battery’s rapid response capabilities will ensure a smoother and more reliable power supply, even during periods of high demand or sudden fluctuations.
Renewable energy integration: By enabling the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, the ‘Big Battery’ will facilitate the transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy mix. This will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change.
Cost reduction: The deployment of battery storage technology helps optimise the energy system by reducing the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades. By levelling out electricity demand and supply imbalances, the ‘Big Battery’ can mitigate the requirement for additional power generation capacity, thereby saving costs in the long run.
Community resilience: The battery system’s capabilities to store and supply electricity during emergencies or power outages will bolster the community’s resilience. It ensures critical facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and emergency services, can continue functioning during unforeseen disruptions.
Achieving its goal of a greener, more sustainable future
This groundbreaking initiative will not only bolster the stability and resilience of the Darwin-Katherine electricity network but also accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources. As the ‘Big Battery’ continues to undergo testing and ultimately goes into operation, it will undoubtedly play a vital role in shaping the Northern Territory’s energy landscape and setting an example for sustainable development across Australia and beyond.
The Northern Territory’s recent achievement in installing a large-scale battery system marks a crucial milestone in its transition to solar power. By leveraging advanced energy storage technologies, the region enhances its renewable energy integration, boosts grid stability, and drives economic growth. The successful implementation of this project further solidifies the NT’s position as a leader in renewable energy adoption. It sets an inspiring example for other regions aiming to accelerate their clean energy transition. As the NT continues to embrace sustainable energy solutions, it moves closer to achieving its goal of a greener, more sustainable future.
Soure&Images: Northern Territory Government Media Release 14 May 2023, Territory Generation, Hitachi Energy
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