Joint financing achieved for big batteries

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Two energy companies have completed joint landmark financing for one of the two large-scale solar batteries to be built in Victoria – the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) – to be integrated with the Gannawarra Solar Farm (GSF).

GESS was selected by the Victorian Government under its Energy Storage Initiative to integrate a 25MW/50MWh Tesla Powerpack battery with the 50MW GSF to enhance the reliability of the grid in the North West region of Victoria and unlock further economic growth. Together with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is supporting GESS with $25 million in grant funding.

The financing of GESS is further underpinned by a long-term commercial services agreement with EnergyAustralia, who will operate the battery. EnergyAustralia is already the long-term offtaker for GSF and will operate the combined solar farm and battery facility in a coordinated way that better reflects the requirements of the Victorian energy market than could be achieved by a stand-alone renewable asset.

This agreement with EnergyAustralia is a first-of-a-kind in the Australian market and demonstrates a financeable commercial model for future retrofit and combined renewable and storage facilities.

When complete, the combined GESS and GSF facility will achieve a range of positive outcomes, including:

  • The first combined solar and storage facility in Victoria and among the largest in the world, setting a precedent for future equivalent installations
  • A tangible benefit to an area of the network that has been identified as requiring upgrade by better managing the dispatch of GSF
  • A reduction in future system costs by demonstrating integration benefits, deploying battery volume, facilitating learning and sector confidence, and reducing the cost of financing in a manner that is consistent with the findings of the Finkel Review
  • The development of local expertise, skills and capability that may be applied further in the Victorian and Australian markets and exported to overseas markets
  • The creation of 20-25 jobs during construction and one to two jobs during operations

Edify Energy CEO, John Cole, is excited by what this project represents for the renewable energy sector.

“We are very proud to have designed and financed the first combined utility-scale solar and storage facility in Victoria. It is unprecedented in Australia at this scale and is among the largest in the world.

“The team has worked tirelessly to overcome many regulatory, technical and commercial challenges and create a very cool project – one that can deploy solar power at night.

“Without a doubt as the cost of battery storage falls, we see solar and storage becoming a ‘category killer’ in the energy sector and accelerating Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.”

Mark Hogan, Managing Director of WIRSOL Energy, said, “We at WIRSOL are thrilled to be associated with a project of such global significance, which will contribute to the ongoing development of Australia’s critical energy infrastructure.

“This further demonstrates the enormous potential for integrating large-scale energy storage systems with solar. It is another major milestone for WIRSOL in our path to furthering our business and footprint within Australia.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate to be at the forefront of this world-leading project with the support of ARENA, DELWP and our partner Edify Energy, as we continue to invest in this exciting renewable energy revolution.”

The timing of this announcement coincides with GSF providing its first electricity into the grid, which is another milestone for Victorian electricity consumers.

In addition to continuing development of other projects in its portfolio, Edify Energy will undertake the construction management and long-term asset management roles for GESS, as it has done for GSF. EPC contractor RCR Tomlinson has been awarded the balance of system contract for GESS.

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