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11 November 2020
By Dean Lawson
Wimmera development leaders expect to know in the next few weeks what a giant western Victorian lithium battery will mean for the region’s renewable-energy-generating future.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said he suspected the 300-megawatt battery, planned for Moorabool Terminal Station near Geelong, simply represented another piece in an infrastructure puzzle.
“We’ll be attending an information session in the next couple of weeks to assess what it means for energy generation in the Wimmera and southern Mallee,” he said.
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“Anything that increases electrical-grid stability will help us recognise the potential of what we have here or could potentially have.
“It represents another piece in the jigsaw, which will be great for Victoria and hopefully allow the industry to expand in the region.”
Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has directed the Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO, to sign a contract with renewable-energy specialist Neoen to build a new Tesla battery to transform Victoria’s energy system and improve reliability.
The Victorian Big Battery will be designed to help reduce wholesale and household electricity prices by storing renewable energy when the weather makes it plentiful and discharging it into the grid when it is needed most.
Neoen, which operates a wind farm at Bulgana near Great Western, will pay for construction of the battery, scheduled to be ready by the 2021-22 summer, as well as its ongoing operation and maintenance.
Renewable-energy companies have identified parts of the Wimmera, southern Mallee and Western District as environmentally ideal for generating wind and solar power.
They have been exploring project options in the region, with limited capacity in ageing electrical-grid infrastructure in much of western Victoria a major stumbling block.
Initial work is underway to address grid shortcomings and the power-generating industry is also looking at storage options based on batteries and hydrogen production.
The Wimmera is likely to be a key part of the broad western Victorian renewable-energy picture.
Mr Sounness said industrial activity ‘in the renewable industry space’ in the Wimmera and southern Mallee was continuing to evolve.
“We’re seeing investors looking at the rolling out of batteries and hydrogen production as viable business opportunities in our part of the world,” he said.
Victoria’s State Opposition believes the government should build the new battery at Mortlake, between Ararat and Warrnambool, instead of near Geelong to avoid wasting power.
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