ARENA funding for 2 renewable energy storage projects

Repurposing Broken Hill mine for compressed air energy storage

ARENA has announced $45 million in funding to construct a 200 MW / 1600 MWh fuel-free energy storage facility. Developed by Hydrostor, the Silver City Energy Storage Project will use advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) technology. The site will repurpose a disused mine at Broken Hill, NSW.

It will be one of the world’s largest compressed air projects, providing at least 8 hours of storage.

The project will compress air during times of low electricity prices, storing the energy and releasing it to generate electricity in times of high demand and high energy prices.

A-CAES technology provides an alternative to pumped hydro energy storage (PHES), having a comparable price point and additional benefits. These include more flexible site selection, shorter development and construction times, and a lower environmental impact.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said new technologies for medium duration storage will help to improve the economics of energy storage and give us a range of options for our future energy storage needs.

‘In Australia’s regional towns at the fringe of the grid such as Broken Hill, new large scale storage technologies can provide back-up power to communities that will improve the reliability of electricity supply. Having more grid scale storage will also support more solar and wind in regional areas,’ Mr Miller said.

Read more about Hydrostor’s project

Minister’s media release

AGL Thermal Storage at Torrens Island Power Station B Feasibility Study

ARENA has also announced $422,582 in funding for AGL Energy to investigate the viability of retrofitting the Torrens Island Power Station B in South Australia with thermal energy storage technology.

The study will test the feasibility of repurposing electricity infrastructure to be powered by renewable-powered electricity and energy storage.

The $1.01 million total feasibility study would investigate options to use grid electricity to charge the thermal energy storage and discharge through one of the power station’s existing 200 MW steam turbines. The turbines ordinarily run on gas when electricity is required on the grid.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) indicated the National Electricity Market (NEM) will need more than 60 GW of dispatchable generation and storage by 2050 to support the uptake of renewable energy.

Findings from the AGL feasibility study are expected to be replicable and scalable with other thermal generators across the NEM.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said, ‘AGL’s study comes at an important time when we need to look at all options for renewable energy storage. As thermal power stations close, there could be an opportunity to retrofit these sites as we head towards net zero emissions.’

Read more about AGL’s project

Minister’s media release

[Image: proposed Broken Hill A-CAES facility; ARENA]