More than two years on from its commissioning, the Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) ElectraNet South Australian battery storage system at Dalrymple has achieved its objectives and returned the $12 million grant ARENA provided in 2017.

The South Australian Government said the performance of one the ESCRI, one of Australia’s first big batteries, has exceeded expectations, setting the stage for large-scale storage across the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The ESCRI is able to operate connected to the NEM and also be ‘islanded’. In islanded mode, regional demand for electricity is met entirely by renewables, with network regulation services provided by the battery.

The ESCRI system is charged by AGL’s existing 90MW Wattle Point Wind Farm. Surplus rooftop solar is a back-up in the event of any interruption to supply from the grid. The battery has reduced the amount of unserved energy to the region following losses of supply.

AGL Chief Operating Officer, Markus Brokhof, said, “We’re pleased to be delivering improved reliability and energy security to South Australia, with the first large-scale certified indoor battery in Australia connected to the energy grid.

“The performance and technical response of the ESCRI has been excellent, and the commercial return has exceeded expectations. Therefore a return of the grant was part of the ARENA funding mechanism.

“As we drive Australia’s energy transition and work towards our target of net-zero emissions by 2050, it is projects like the ESCRI battery that will make significant contributions to the energy mix and provide the critical firming capacity the market needs for peak periods.”

From December 2018 to 2020, the ESCRI battery was called on in 29 system events. It responded almost instantly to inject power to arrest dips in voltage or reduce the duration of an outage.

On one occasion, a catastrophic failure tripped a series of transmission lines. The battery responded immediately, assisting recovery from the voltage dip within 2.5 seconds.

Financial performance

Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) revenue peaked in the six months from December 2019 to June 2020. The system earned $15.6 million in addition to $102,000 discharging revenue, from a $76,000 charging cost.

In the two years to December 2020, the system earned $22.6 million in FCAS revenue and $319,820 in discharging revenue, from $329,750 in charging costs.

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