The 400MWh BESS that Neoen is building is being built next to “Australia’s biggest solar farm”

Neoen, an independent power producer (IPP), has begun building its 200MW/400MWh Western Downs Battery in Australia’s Queensland.

Last week, the French renewable energy company said that Tesla, the provider of the battery energy storage system (BESS), and UGL, the contractor for the balance of plant (BOP), had been given permission to proceed with the project.

The utility-scale BESS, which is being built next to a 460MWp ground mount solar PV power plant, will provide essential services to help balance the grid network. The PV plant’s construction began a few months ago, and Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub is made up of the facilities.

According to Neoen, preliminary construction is already under way, and the BESS is anticipated to be operational in late 2024 or early 2025, during the Australian summer.

The first 100MW of PV generation capacity was connected to the grid in August, and Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables, and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni referred to it as Australia’s largest solar farm project thus far. A 320MW power purchase agreement (PPA) is set up with Queensland state-owned electricity generation and trading organization CleanCo.

Powerlink, the company responsible for connecting the hub to the grid and installing new high-voltage lines, will connect the site through its existing substations in the Western Downs, a region with a population of only about 35,000 but an administrative area the size of Switzerland.

The Western Downs Regional Council local authority says that gas and coal-fired power stations “also feature prominently in the region” and that investments in coal seam gas and coal production have increased in the past two decades. The region has a long history of being closely associated with the fossil fuel industries.

However, there has also been a significant increase in investments in renewable energy. As of the end of 2019, there were more than 5GW of renewable energy projects in the pipeline in the Western Downs region alone, even prior to the state government’s mid-2022 commitments to accelerating Queensland’s energy transition, which included promising funding for large-scale and community battery storage.

All the more as of late, Queensland commended the introduction of the state’s greatest BESS to date, a 100MW/150MWh framework in the Sweetheart Downs, a district around 900km north of Neoen’s new undertaking, by designer Vena Energy in August.

Power generator CS Energy, which is owned by the state, is developing its own large-scale renewable energy hub in the Western Downs. This hub will include a 100MW/200MWh BESS at the site of an integrated coal mining and power generation operation owned by CS Energy.

CS Energy’s project, like the Western Downs Battery, will utilize Tesla’s Megapack utility BESS solution. The state government anticipates that it will be operational by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, Neoen stated that the Western Downs Battery brings the total number of BESS in operation or under construction in Australia to 776MW/1279MWh. This includes the Victorian Big Battery, which is the largest in the nation and has a capacity of 300MW/450MWh.

The company received planning approval earlier in December for its proposed Collie Battery in Western Australia, which could be up to 1GW/4GWh in size. The planned facility received approval from the local authority Collie Shire.

In November, Neoen stated that the company’s energy storage revenues nearly tripled for the first nine months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 as a result of its Australia portfolio.