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  • Writer's pictureJon Ruwolt

Blyth's Big Battery

Blyth West is to get a big battery built for French company Neoen, just like the Hornsdale Tesla Battery.

It is being located next to the Blyth West power substation on Atkinson Road, Blyth West, close to the Blyth Road and Boskey Dell Farm, run by the Pratt family.

French clean energy producer company Neoen started the construction of its fifth grid-scale battery in Australia in January 2023 – a project in South Australia that will provide backup power for BHP’s Olympic Dam mine.

The Blyth project in the state’s mid-north will be able to run for two hours at its maximum output of 200 megawatts.

Neoen, whose Hornsdale battery project in South Australia was the first grid-scale storage project in the country, has since also installed -

  1. the “Victoria Big Battery” (pictured above) in Geelong, Victoria

  2. and is building the Capital battery in the ACT and

  3. is building the Western Downs battery in Queensland.

The Blyth Big Battery will be located next to the Blyth West substation and will be connected to ElectraNet’s transmission network.

In line with its develop-to-own business model, Neoen will be the long-term owner and operator of the asset.

Blyth Battery will mainly be deployed in combination with Neoen’s Goyder South Stage 1 wind farm to deliver 70 MW of renewable baseload energy to BHP, a world leading resources company. The energy will power BHP’s Olympic Dam operations in South Australia, one of the world’s most significant deposits of copper, gold and uranium. The Blyth Battery will have the capacity to reduce electricity prices for SA energy consumers through:

  • enabling more power to come from wind and solar: the cheapest forms of energy

  • increasing competition and pushing electricity prices down

  • increasing the reliability of the grid, helping to prevent blackouts

For example: Neoen’s SA Big Battery saved energy consumers over $150m in its first two years of operation. It can switch on, or off, very quickly compared to a slower gas power station.

“Battery storage is an essential technology in the transition to renewable energy, allowing us to smooth out variable generation and store electricity for when it’s needed. Next generation grid scale batteries will underpin this transition, with inverter technology that can maintain grid stability without fossil fuels.” - Darren Miller, CEO of ARENA. (ARENA is the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. They were established by the Australian Government on 1 July 2012.)

Blyth Battery is Neoen’s fifth big battery in the National Electricity Market, bringing the company’s total Australian assets close to 3 GW in operation or under construction with its storage portfolio approaching 1 GW. It is expected to start operating in 2025. Which companies are doing the construction? A consortium of Elecnor and NHOA BENEFITS FOR THE BLYTH LOCAL COMMUNITY

  1. A Community Benefit-Sharing Scheme will be established for the lifetime of the project.

  2. Neoen is developing a Learning Hub consisting of educational resources about electricity & renewable energy for schools.

The Learning Hub was launched in 2022 with curriculum-linked content including videos, interactive activities & lesson plans for yr 6 (upper primary) and yr 8 (lower secondary). Neoen is keen to hear from the community about what form this Learning Hub could take.

  • One idea is to develop educational resources for local schools to support learning about renewables and our future energy system.

EXAMPLE: BLYTH LEARNING HUB WHAT DOES A BIG BATTERY DO? Ever wondered what a big battery does? Neoen and AusNet have made a wonderful animation that explores the many abilities of a grid-scale or big battery and the role they play in supporting the clean energy transition.

Take a look at the stand-alone website which features videos, interactive game & lesson plans for upper primary & lower secondary students.

These terms are explained at the Learning Hub: Basic Function - The battery will trade on the National Electricity Market (NEM). This capacity is being used to store power from the grid when demand is low and discharge it when demand is high Frequency Support - For instance, if power generation rises, the frequency will rise. Similarly, if electricity demand increases, frequency decreases Inertia - A big battery can enable the advanced power inverters to emulate the existing inertia services being supplied by an ageing fleet of fossil fuel power plants. Transmission network support - Grid-scale batteries can provide dynamic warp-speed responses so existing transmission lines can operate at full capacity. Firming Renewables - Batteries are an essential component in the stable transition to clean electricity and achieving emissions reduction targets.

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