Neoen is proposing to build a gigawatt-scale battery storage project in collaboration with Western Australia's Collie region, which has strong and ongoing ties to the coal industry.
Neoen, a French developer, owner and operator of renewable energy and energy storage assets, has delivered Australia's largest battery storage system to date, the 300MW/450MWh Victorian Big Battery project in Victoria.
The company also built the Hornsdale battery storage project in South Australia with Tesla, which is considered a landmark project for large-scale battery storage systems worldwide. When it reported its latest financial results in August, Neoen said its energy storage unit generated $39.3 million in revenue in the first half of 2022, triple the amount in the same period a year earlier.
This was driven by its successful market participation in projects in Australia, with the Victorian Big Battery project accounting for a major part.
In its application to the Curry County Planning Authority, the company said its proposed energy storage project would be a 1GW/4GWh battery storage system and would be constructed in stages, starting with an initial 200MW/800MWh installation.
Whether it reaches 1GW/4GWh depends on the service demand for the battery energy storage system, adding 200MW/800MWh in each phase, the project will be connected to Australia's Western Electricity Transmission Network.
A power plant in the Collie community is one of the last two coal-fired power plants in Western Australia still owned by the state government. The plant is scheduled to close in 2027, while another plant, the Muja coal-fired power plant, will close in 2030.
The motivation for this is economic as well as environmental and social. The cost of keeping the plants running could add an average of $1,800 to $3,000 a year to customers' energy bills, the Western Australian government said in June, while the state-owned power producer Synergy, which operates the plants, is expected to lose $3 billion.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan and the state's Mines, Petroleum and Energy Minister Bill Johnston said at the time that Western Australia would invest about $3.8 billion to facilitate an "orderly transition" to renewable power generation and energy storage. Politicians say the investment will largely be used to upgrade and strengthen Australia's South West Interconnection System (SWIS) grid network.
A fund worth more than $500 million is working on the transformation of the Collie region, which houses coal mines and power plants.
One source said the site chosen by Neoen, about 4km from the Collie power plant and 13km from the town, was an ideal location to deploy battery storage in an area of importance to Australia's energy industry for half a century.
Sources say the project is in line with the CollieJust transition plan developed and funded by the Western Australian Government and will bring investment to the region, supporting local jobs and business operations.
If the project goes ahead, it will also work with Collie Regional Council on a scheme to share the benefits of the community.
In April this year, another energy developer, ZEN Energy, started a feasibility study for another battery energy storage project in the region, which is expected to have an installed capacity of 200MW and an energy storage capacity of 600MWh to 800MWh. Funding for the project comes from the Western Australian Government.
The project will provide commercial and industrial (C&I) entities with renewable energy, helping them reduce their impact on wholesale markets. It will also be a key part of the Collie battery energy storage system and hydrogen industrial hub project the state government hopes to build.