Fluence provides battery energy storage systems for AGL deployments

Fluence, a global energy storage system integrator and service provider, said a few days ago that it plans to provide a battery energy storage system for the deployment of a 50MW/50MWh energy storage project in Australia, which will be used to demonstrate the ability of smart inverter technology to support the stable operation of the Australian grid. 

Broken Hill in New South Wales is a historic mining site that operates a large-scale solar and wind power facility. However, the area's connection to the grid is weak. Locally generated renewable electricity has to be curtailed when electricity supply exceeds local demand, and the variability of wind and solar power creates problems for managers of local grids.

April 25, 2022

The planned deployment of Broken Hill's large-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage system will be equipped with grid-connected inverters, which will increase power system strength and allow for greater integration of renewable energy.

Major Australian utility AGL is developing and operating the battery storage project as part of its 850MW battery storage system currently being deployed.

Fluence will supply the battery storage system for the project and has signed a framework agreement with AGL in early 2021. Australian infrastructure services group Valmec will partner with Fluence to deploy the project.

The A$41 million ($30.88 million) battery storage project will be funded by Australia's National Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which has announced A$14.84 million in funding.

Darren Miller, chief executive of the Australian National Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), said the agency saw large-scale energy storage as an "area of focus" and the technology was a priority on the Australian government's technology roadmap.

"Battery storage systems have become critical to the proper operation of the power system, but we know that with grid-tied inverters, they can provide power that has traditionally been provided by fossil fuel generation facilities," Miller said. "We are particularly interested in learning about How AGL's Broken Hill battery energy storage project will leverage and demonstrate advanced inverter technology in vulnerable parts of the grid."

Darren Miller added that as more renewable energy is added to the grid, the project could highlight the potential of large-scale battery energy storage to provide power system stability in a more cost-effective manner. The Broken Hill battery storage system is scheduled to go live next year.

The region also has plans to deploy a 200MW/1,600MWh Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) project by Hydrostor, which has been selected by grid operator Transgrid to deploy and operate a larger scale with a longer duration energy storage systems to directly alleviate brownouts and manage peak demand.

The announcement comes days after AGL's plans to build another large battery storage project were approved by the NSW government. The project will be built at a coal-fired power plant that is about to be decommissioned in the state and will be sized at 500MW/2000MWh.

Markus Brokhof, Chief Operating Officer of AGL, said: “As Australia’s energy transition goals progress, we know that battery technology plays an important role in the deployment of energy storage and supporting energy supply. The unique grid environment facing the Broken Hill battery storage project is an opportunity for adoption This advanced inverter technology provides the opportunity to demonstrate how it can facilitate further penetration of renewable energy generation and increase the stability of the wider grid."

Fossil fuel power generation facilities (such as coal and natural gas) are typically synchronous, providing stability to the power system through their power quality while operating in continuous rotation. While variable renewables are the opposite, inverters can do the same thing and operate as a voltage source for the local electricity network.

Australia got its first battery storage system to play this role in 2018, deploying the Commercial Renewable Energy + Storage (ESCRI) project in Dalrymple, South Australia, a similar "grid edge" project. "Location. As the inertial supplier of the demonstration project, Hitachi Energy provided a 30MW/8MWh battery energy storage system.

The Broken Hill battery energy storage project is unique in that it will remain in so-called grid generation mode at all times in response to changes in grid voltage and frequency, and provide synthetic inertia through its Virtual Synchronous Machine (VSM) mode, Fluence said.

The battery energy storage project will also perform more common applications such as participating in the Frequency Controlled Ancillary Services (FCAS) market and taking advantage of other wholesale market opportunities in Australia's National Electricity Market (NEM). It could also help the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) combine its capacity with other inverter-based renewable energy generation assets near the West Murray region of NSW.

Aaron McCann, general manager of Fluence Australia, said, “The Broken Hill battery energy storage project’s power can be dispatched instantaneously to respond quickly to large changes in voltage or frequency, providing the fastest response of any battery-based energy storage system on the market today. The rapid response will enable stable operation of the power system and suppress voltage oscillations and strengthen the grid system after failures in weak grid areas in the West Murray region."

The grid-tied inverters will be supplied by California-based manufacturer EPC Power, which was recently selected as the power electronics technology supplier for EVLO Energy Storage, an energy storage systems integrator subsidiary of Canadian utility Hydro Quebec.

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