$ 760 Million Battery Approved to Support Australia’s Coal-Fired Power Plant Shutdown

New South Wales (NSW) has issued a go-ahead to help replace the Liddell coal-fired power plant after the retirement of Australia’s largest battery.

AGL Energy, Australia’s largest power company, has abolished its 1,680 MW (megawatt) coal-fired power plant due to its aging, and the power plant 50 years ago has reached the end of its operational life.

The first of the four units at the station will be closed next month in April 2022, and the remaining units will be off in April 2023 the following year.

AGL’s new monolithic A $ 763 million (US $ 564 million) battery is intended to provide some of the replacement capacity and can output up to 4 hours at 500 MW.

Epoch Times Photo
Liddell coal-fired power plant in Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. (Taras Vyshnya / Adobe Stock)

Markus Brokhof, Chief Operating Officer of AGL, explained that batteries are becoming more important in supporting Australia’s fast-growing renewable energy uptake.

“As Australia moves forward and becomes more dependent on renewables, batteries are important in providing the storage needed to maintain a consistent, reliable and affordable energy system. Will be, “Brokhof Said..

Australia’s growth in solar and wind power has already begun to exceed 100% of total energy demand at certain times of the day.

However, these renewable energy systems remain vulnerable to weather and time of day. Energy storage is the only carbon dioxide-free solution, as Australia has banned the use of nuclear energy.

“Large batteries combined with solar, wind and pumped storage help provide the cheapest and most reliable energy for families and businesses in New South Wales.” relief NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean.

This is the second battery announced in response to Liddell’s closure, and Shell and Edify have announced plans for an A $ 100 million (US $ 74 million) battery capable of outputting 100 MW for two hours.

However, the 1,680 MW (megawatt) reliable power outlet has raised concerns that the national electricity market may suffer from energy shortages without proper replacement of dispatchable capacity.

Two new gas-fired power plants were subsequently commissioned to support the power gap, including Energy Australia’s 316 MW Tallawarra B and the federal government’s $ 600 million 660 MW Kurri Kurri gas plant.

Epoch Times Photo
AGL power plant on Torrens Island, Adelaide, Australia, November 4, 2019. (AAPImage / Kelly Barnes)

In addition to Liddell, Origin Energy’s 2,880 MW Eraring coal-fired power plant (the largest coal-fired power plant in the country) will be decommissioned in the coming years.

However, unlike the dilapidated Liddell plant, the closure of Eraring in 2025 is seven years earlier than originally expected, raising concerns that the national electricity market may run out of energy. ..

With the early closure, the Government of New South Wales has announced its own battery that can output 700 MW for two hours.

Big battery problem

Despite the accelerating promotion of more battery projects, there remains uncertainty as to whether this technology will be feasible in the Australian power grid in the long run.

While outputting at a significant 500 MW, AGL’s new $ 763 million battery can only output for four hours and continues to depend on weather conditions beyond that time frame.

By comparison, an AGL battery would cost more than $ 15 billion to rival the 24-hour support of Liddell’s 1,680 MW capacity.

In addition, coal-fired power plants have a lifespan of 50 years, but battery systems need to be decommissioned after about 20-25 years.

Iven Mareels, a power grid system expert and professor of engineering at the University of Melbourne, believes the solution lies in pumped storage power.

“We can’t make enough batteries to store for the grid,” Marilles told The Epoch Times earlier.

“For large, large storage, I always put money in the water before putting it in the battery,” he said.

Hydro storage involves pumping water into a higher elevation reservoir. This reservoir can later be released and accessed via a conventional hydro turbine.

The Australian Government’s Snowy 2.0 is Australia’s first and only large-scale pumped-storage power generation project, which will be capable of outputting at 2,000 MW for up to 175 hours upon completion.

Epoch Times Photo
In this dateless photo, the Snowy 2.0 pumped storage project in Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales, Australia. (New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)

The estimated cost of the project is unknown, but it is estimated to be capped at $ 10 billion. However, even at this price, the AGL battery is more than 13 times more expensive than Snowy 2.0.

Taking into account the estimated life of pumped storage power of about 100 years, the AGL battery needs to be scrapped at least four times in the same period, which is 50 times more costly in the long run.

Marilles also pointed out other concerns, such as the requirements for important non-renewable minerals and the recycling process, which remains uneconomical.

“Batteries aren’t as renewable as people think … [and] Battery recycling is a daunting task, “he said.

Daniel Kumerev


Daniel Khmelev is a Perth-based Australian reporter working on energy, technology and politics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, physics and computer science. Contact him at [email protected]