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The Northern Territory Government’s $45 million Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System (DK BESS) has reached the pre-commissioning stages, with all 192 batteries now installed.

Once commissioned, the 35MW battery is intended to replace some gas-fired generation at the Channel Island Power Station and strengthen the Darwin-Katherine system to support increased solar power. It will reduce Territory carbon emissions by about 58,000t per year. 

A major part of the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan, the DK BESS is forecast to deliver cost savings of around $9.8 million per year – paying for itself in about five years from connection to the grid. 

All 192 batteries, each weighing 3.5t, have been installed at the DK BESS site adjacent to Channel Island. 

A temporary power supply has been established for pre-commissioning testing on the eight DK BESS Hitachi Energy modules, each comprising a bank of batteries, a set of inverters and a step-up transformer. 

Using the temporary power supply in combination with an AC/DC power converter, the battery modules will be charged and discharged to test all their functions before being connected to the 11kV switch room.  

Network connected commissioning of the big battery is scheduled to commence in late 2023 and it is expected to be fully commissioned and online in the 2023-24 financial year.  

Chief Minister of Northern Territory, Natasha Fyles, said investment in renewable energy makes economic and environmental sense.

“The Territory Labor Government is investing in DK BESS as an important step towards achieving 50 per cent renewable power by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050,” Ms Fyles said.

“Ensuring Territorians have access to affordable electricity is a priority for our Government, as is driving that shift to renewable energy.”

Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Selena Uibo, congratulated Territory Generation and Hitachi Energy upon the successful installation of all batteries and progression to pre-commissioning stage. 

“This battery energy storage system will put about 35MW into the Darwin system, which means we can reduce the gas turbines spinning and reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burnt,” Ms Uibo said.

“When operating, the big battery is expected to support system security for about 150,000 homes between Darwin and Katherine and it will provide Territorians with greater system reliability and cleaner, green energy.”

Territory Generation CEO, Gerhard Laubscher, said, “The successful installation of all batteries and progression to pre-commissioning is a significant step forward for the DK BESS. 

“We recognise commissioning is a complex and time intensive process, and we are working closely with all stakeholders to support the fastest possible progression of these activities. 

“The DK BESS is key to unlocking flexibility in our generation fleet. Once commissioned, it will be online continuously, helping to stabilise the impacts of solar and support the integration of more into the Darwin-Katherine grid.” 

Hitachi Energy Country Managing Director, Bernard Norton, said, “This is a significant milestone in the development of the advanced Hitachi Energy battery energy storage solution that will ensure full utilisation of solar energy generation and less reliance on fossil fuels across the Darwin-Katherine network.

“Through this partnership approach with Territory Generation, Hitachi Energy is helping to solve the challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy generation and accelerating the transition towards a carbon-neutral energy future for all.”

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