The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide $5.7 million in funding to Yadlamalka Energy to install Australia’s first ever utility-scale vanadium flow battery in regional South Australia.

The battery installation has been designed to demonstrate the potential impact that flow batteries could provide in reaching the energy storage target in the Federal Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement.

The $20.3 million project will co-locate a 2MW/8MWh vanadium flow battery with a 6MW solar PV array at Neuroodla, near Hawker in South Australia. 

It will connect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) to demonstrate the potential for grid-connected vanadium flow batteries to provide energy and frequency control ancillary services (FCAS). 

Neuroodla is located at a relatively weak part of the distribution network. The connection of energy storage alongside additional renewable energy generation is expected to improve the reliability of energy supply within the region.

The project will create up to 100 jobs during the construction phase as well as ongoing employment opportunities for locals.

The battery for Yadlamalka Energy will be supplied by Invinity Energy Systems.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Federal Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement identified an emerging requirement for medium-duration storage, with vanadium flow battery technology seen as a potentially scalable and flexible solution.

Vanadium flow batteries are a form of heavy-duty stationary energy storage, designed for use in high-utilisation applications such as being coupled with industrial scale solar PV generation for distributed, low-emissions energy projects. 

Vanadium flow batteries store energy in a non-flammable, liquid electrolyte and do not degrade with cycling like lithium-ion batteries. They can be scaled and located with greater flexibility than pumped hydro energy storage, which may increase the potential applications for this technology.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said flow batteries were an exciting technology to address the emerging energy storage requirement.

“The strong uptake of variable renewable energy like solar PV and wind has highlighted the need for increased energy storage and vanadium flow batteries could play a major role in addressing this need, complementing the role of more established technologies such as pumped hydro energy storage and lithium ion batteries in the Australian market,” Mr Miller said.

“We look forward to working with Yadlamalka Energy on this exciting project to demonstrate the benefits of flow batteries connected to the grid, particularly the ability to shift the dispatch of renewable energy into the evening when consumer demand is highest.”

Andrew Doman, Chairman and founder or Yadlamalka Energy, thanked ARENA for its support for this important development in South Australia.

“Yadlamalka Energy is committed to developing renewable technology solutions to enable a sustainable energy future,” Mr Doman said.

“This project will provide vital support for the electricity grid in South Australia, which relies heavily on intermittent renewable energy sources, leaving it vulnerable to unexpected changes in sunshine and wind. ARENA’s contribution is critical to allowing our project to proceed and we look forward to working with them.”

Larry Zulch, Chief Executive Officer of Invinity, said Australia was playing an important leadership role when it came to emerging energy technologies.

“Time and again, Australia has shown leadership in the adoption of game-changing energy technologies, and Yadlamalka Energy and ARENA’s joint vision for this project is right in line with that impressive history,” Mr Zulch said.

“Vanadium flow batteries are increasingly recognised as a robust, reliable and proven way of making renewable energy truly dispatchable at grid scale. We look forward to working with Yadlamalka Energy and ARENA on this latest example of Australian energy leadership.”

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said longer duration energy storage is one of five priority technologies identified by the Morrison Government in the Technology Investment Roadmap to accelerate the competitiveness of new and emerging technologies with higher emissions alternatives.

“This project will ensure South Australians can access the power they need, when they need it,” Mr Taylor said.

“Longer duration energy storage is a key focus because it will enable reliable, firmed wind and solar at prices around the average wholesale electricity price of today.

“Getting the technologies of the future right will support 130,000 jobs by 2030 and drive down emissions.

“Our Government is focused on providing affordable and reliable power to all Australians, which is why we’re backing this project through ARENA to improve South Australia’s energy supply and keep the lights on.

“We are investing in the technologies that will help us meet our emissions reduction targets, deliver reliable and affordable power to households and businesses,  strengthen the economy and drive job creation.”

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said there has been a large drop in the price of wholesale electricity with the heavy investment in renewables in South Australia.

“This has created an often over-supplied market,” Mr Ramsey said.

“This in turn has created more instability in the grid and stabilisation projects like this one are essential to back up the renewable generators.”

The first power generated from the project is expected to flow by early 2022.

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