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Coal-fired power plant pulls out to bid farewell as massive battery project takes its place


In Gannawarra, a 25 MW / 50 MWh Tesla Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is located next to a 50 MW solar farm. The project has been operational since 2019 and reports after a year of operation have found it to be a success so far. Image: Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Australian energy retailer EnergyAustralia has announced that it will build a 350 MW, four-hour Autonomous Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project to enable one of its coal-fired power plants to be withdrawn “after decades of loyal service”.

The Yallourn coal-fired plant has been in operation in its current state since 1974, although the site in Victoria has housed a power plant since 1921. The 1,450 MW facility is powered by Australia’s largest open pit mine , located on one site, burns 18 million tonnes of lignite per year and generates enough electricity to meet about 22% of the state of Victoria’s electricity demand and about 8% of the national market demand Australian electricity.

However, it also contributes hugely to emissions – EnergyAustralia said its withdrawal would reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60% from current figures once it retires in mid-2028. EnergyAustralia is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, while the Yallourn coal-fired power plant is also costing the company around A $ 200 million (US $ 155 million) to A $ 300 million per year in investment just to ensure its operation.

Instead, the 350 MW / 1,400 MWh large-scale battery project, which will be built by 2026 before the Yallourn plant closes, will help ensure the continuity of a reliable supply of electricity while enabling the efficient deployment and use of increasing shares of renewable energy. The battery system will also be built in the Latrobe Valley area of ​​Victoria, where Yallourn is located.

The coal-fired power plant was originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2032, but yesterday EnergyAustralia announced the advancement of the four-year plan and said an A $ 10 million support package would be offered to the region to support the workforce. Yallourn powerhouse and the local community. .

The energy company has recognized that the transition to clean energy must be done in a way that does not leave Yallourn’s 500 permanent employees, as well as the other 500 employees who are employed temporarily when major unit outages occur. in the four factory giants. turbines, which EnergyAustralia can occur for up to about four months in most years.

“The energy transition is too important to be left to chance – a plan that supports people, the Latrobe Valley and locks in energy storage capacity before Yallourn retires will ensure the smoothest transition possible. Our A $ 10 million assistance program, coupled with seven years’ notice, means staff at our power plant and mine site will have time to plan, retrain or retrain, ”a- she declared.

“EnergyAustralia is committed to demonstrating that coal-fired electricity can come out of the market in a way that supports our employees and ensures that customers continue to receive reliable energy,” said Catherine Tanna, Managing Director of EnergyAustralia.

In a press release sent to Storage-Energie.news, the nonprofit group Environment Victoria pointed out that the closure of Yallourn marks the end of just one of more than 20 coal-fired power plants in Australia, which group CEO Jono La Nauze said are “the biggest source pollution that causes climate change and threatens public health. ”La Nauze said all were to close by 2030 to be replaced by clean energy sources like solar, wind and battery storage.

“We cannot leave it to the market to decide on such an important task,” said La Nauze.

“Just this week, the United Nations Secretary-General called on developed countries to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 – this is the task ahead, and our state and federal governments must rise to the challenge. Are we going to have 20 separate shutdown announcements, each dictated by an energy company based on the vagaries of the market, with months of speculation beforehand? Australian governments must step in and set a timetable to phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2030 in order to reduce pollution and address the climate crisis.

La Nauze said given the rapid pace of change in the Australian electricity market and Yallourn’s high operating costs, the facility could even close before 2028 – “the last possible date” when the plant can. stay open. Environment Victoria believes the Victoria government needs to clarify the shutdown of Yallourn and other coal-fired power plants, especially in light of the need to help communities economically dependent on them and said the state needs to speed up its shutdown. transition to clean energy to meet climate goals. La Nauze added that at the national level, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor “continues to ignore that Australia is going beyond coal.”

“Workers and communities need a comprehensive plan and tangible support that will guarantee local families and businesses a certain future with thriving local economies,” he said.

EnergyAustralia was behind two of Australia’s first grid-scale battery projects, both in Victoria. One is at Ganawarra Solar Park, Victoria (25MW / 50MWh, supplied by Tesla) which started operations in March 2019 and another to support a large transmission substation in Ballarat (30MW / 30MWh, supplied by Fluence) completed in December 2018. Reports of their operation after each had been in service for over a year revealed that both had been successful in technical, economic and environmental terms by lowering electricity costs and reducing carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

While EnergyAustralia’s latest effort represents a big step forward from these two, it is the last major battery project planned in Australia, several of which are planned as direct aids to the withdrawal of coal production. . Another major Australian electricity company, AGL, said in November it was developing a 200MW grid-wide battery in the Latrobe Valley in an 850MW pipeline of batteries it intends to build. AGL said it has selected the main systems integrators Fluence and Wartsila as preferred suppliers for its expected construction, which could reach up to 1,000 MW.

Although EnergyAustralia’s replacement battery system in Yallourn is larger than the world’s largest battery project in operation today, a 300 MW / 1,200 MWh system in Moss Landing, Calif. isn’t even the biggest battery project proposed to replace coal in Australia: earlier this year, integrated energy company Origin Energy called on suppliers and contractors to work on a potential 700 MW / 2,800 MWh battery project to be deployed as Origin’s only coal-fired power plant, the 2,880 MW Eraring plant is scheduled to retire.

To add further context to the Australian tale of building a large-scale battery storage that just seems to get bigger and bigger, more large projects are planned to support the integration of renewables, but are not necessarily directly related to the withdrawal of a particular fossil fuel. plant. Fund specializing in renewable energies CEPE. Energy said in early February that it wanted to build a battery system with “power up to 1,200 MW” in an industrial redevelopment area in New South Wales.

Later in the month, the national Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) agreed to provide 160 million Australian dollars in debt financing for the large Victorian battery Neoen 300MW / 450MWh for which France-based developer Neoen will team up again with battery system supplier Tesla, the duo having worked together on the famous Hornsdale Power Reserve project in South Australia. Neoen also plans a 500 MW / 1000 MWh Great Western Battery project in New South Wales. These mega-projects are joined by several other large-scale battery installations planned across the country, some of which are directly associated with solar and wind installations.



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