The Australian affiliate of energy giant Shell said it has acquired the development rights for a major battery energy storage project in that country. The new facility is at a site that formerly housed eight coal-fired generation units.
Shell Energy Australia on Jan. 10 said it will build, own, and operate the planned 500-MW/1,000-MWh Wallerawang 9 battery energy storage system (BESS) near Lithgow in New South Wales (NSW). The company said the project already has received the necessary development approvals.
Australian real estate investor Greenspot had been developing the project at Wallerawang before the Shell acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Coal-Fired Station Closed in 2014
The coal-fired power station at the site was closed in 2014 by owner EnergyAustralia. Greenspot, which focuses its investments on projects that promote sustainability while also lessening environmental impact, has been involved in rehabilitating former fossil-fuel power generation sites and repurposing them—often for renewable energy facilities.
“Battery energy storage has a vital role to play in the energy transition by supporting renewable generation and contributing to improved reliability for the grid and consumers,” said Greg Joiner, Shell Energy CEO. “Shell Energy is proud to take an important step forward in NSW’s energy future, particularly in helping regional communities such as Lithgow continue to play a role when energy is increasingly decarbonized.”
“As the economy decarbonizes, and new energy technologies are adopted, it is critically important that strategies are implemented to attract a range of new businesses to areas like Lithgow which have traditionally relied heavily on coal-based industry,” Greenspot CEO Brett Hawkins said. “Proximity to the high-voltage transmission network, access to major road, rail transport and significant existing and proposed water infrastructure, and proximity to high-integrity data networks, makes the Wallerawang site highly competitive to attract the investment needed to propel the local economy forward.”
Greenspot said it will lease 20 hectares (about 50 acres) of land for the BESS project to Shell Energy. Shell said the battery system will be connected to an existing 330kV substation adjacent to the site, pending a final investment decision.
Greenspot on Tuesday said it received development approvals in August of last year for the BESS project. State government officials in NSW designated the facility as a State Significant Development Project. The designation means the government deems the project worthy of acceleration development because it is in the public interest.
Neoen, a France-based renewable energy developer, has a similar project in development that also would connect to the substation at Wallerawang. The Great Western Battery project was first announced in early 2021. Neoen has said it wants to invest more than $4.5 billion in Australia for renewable energy and storage projects in the next few years. The company already is building three large-scale BESS facilities in Australia, and recently received approval to build its 1-GW/4-GWh Collie Battery project in Western Australia.
Shell has other battery storage projects in Australia, including the 500-MW/1,000-MWh Wellington BESS in Central West New South Wales, which the company is developing near the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone, a mixed-technology clean energy hub.
The company has operational rights to a 60-MW/120-MWh slice of the Riverina project, a 150-MW/300-MWh BESS under construction in New South Wales by state-owned Edify Energy.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).