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A tender has been awarded for the construction of a new 35MVA big battery for the Northern Territory’s Darwin-Katherine grid.

The Darwin-Katherine Battery Energy Storage System (DK BESS) is expected to produce $9.8 million in savings annually, paying for itself in approximately five years.

With customers in the utility, industry and infrastructure sectors and a 30-year history in the Northern Territory, Hitachi Energy will deliver the major components of the $45 million DK BESS to be built and located at Territory Generation’s Channel Island Power Station. 

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System provides energy to 150,000 Territorians, and one in six customers have rooftop solar panels. 

Customers are using more of their own solar generation to power their homes and businesses during the day rather than using traditional generation.

The DK BESS is the first step towards reducing the use of gas generators for the Darwin-Katherine system. 

It will unlock further capacity for households to connect their rooftop PV or for industry to invest into lower cost solar systems for the commercial and industrial operations. 

The DK BESS will use Hitachi Energy’s virtual synchronous machine technology to replace the existing thermal generation. 

The revised battery specifications offer increased storage capacity capable of delivering energy and services for longer than the original design. The battery will be online continuously, replacing one gas-fired generating unit.

Major benefits of the DK BESS include:

  • Significantly reduced carbon emissions for the Territory – reducing the need for gas-fired spinning reserves can deliver emissions reductions of about 58,000 tonnes per annum.
  • Replaces a Frame 6 generating unit in providing contingency generation for power system events.
  • Inertia from the battery will increase stability and reliability of the power supply. Fluctuations caused by the intermittency of solar energy can be managed quickly and efficiently.

Ongoing jobs and further training opportunities will be provided with the establishment of the DK BESS, supporting 25 local jobs during the build. 

Producing a BESS for the Darwin-Katherine electricity grid is a major part of the recently announced Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan, and fits into the ‘Ready’ stage of the plan. It is also a cornerstone investment of Territory Generation’s Fleet Transition.

Construction will commence in 2022 with the DK BESS expected to be operational in 2023. 

Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Eva Lawler, said, “The awarding of the BESS tender is a huge step forward in our plan for 50 per cent renewables by 2030 – it is the cornerstone of our Darwin-Katherine System Plan.

“Renewables are the way forward, this is why we are investing in the BESS and hydrogen powered generators so we can have clean and efficient energy which helps us reach our renewables and net zero emission targets.”

Hitachi Energy Country Managing Director, Bernard Norton, said, “Hitachi Energy’s battery energy storage solution will be part of an intelligent electrical ecosystem and ensure full utilisation of solar energy generation and less reliance on fossil fuels.

“This battery energy storage system will allow greater penetration of renewable energy in the Territory, helping to ensure a sustainable, flexible and secure energy system for today’s generations and those to come.”

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