Emission Control: QLD doubles down on batteries to leverage rooftop solar dominance
Emission Control is Stockhead’s fortnightly take on all the big news surrounding developments in renewable energy.
The Queensland Government has poured $179m into the state’s next stage of its local network connected batteries program this week, funding the installation of an additional 12 4MW/8MWh batteries with the promise of ‘cheap, renewable energy’.
First announced in 2021, the scheme works by using solar energy collected by rooftop panels during the day and storing it in communal, grid-sized batteries across the state.
The four-phase program will take Energy Queensland’s battery fleet to a total of 29 once completed, with stage four including the trial of two flow batteries made by local manufacturers and potentially kickstarting a local battery industry.
A flow battery, or redox flow battery, stores energy in the electrolyte, as opposed to the electrode material with conventional batteries.
While more expensive up front, flow batteries last for decades, don’t catch fire and can store and dispatch sunshine for 10 to 18 hours.
Queensland, which already holds highest rate of rooftop solar installations in Australia with one in three homes boasting solar energy technology, is building these batteries in areas with high solar penetration in the hopes they will support the energy network during times of peak demand.
By doing so, Energy Minister Mick de Brenni says it is expected these batteries will place downward pressure on electricity prices.
Energy Queensland chief engineer Peter Price says the aim of these battery projects is for a win-win scenario that achieves the energy trifecta for communities throughout the state – affordability, security and sustainability.
The battery program is fundamental to the state’s success in achieving 70pc renewable energy by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050.
Magnum Mining and Exploration (ASX:MGU) is developing a iron ore concentrate and green pig iron operation via its flagship Buena Vista magnetite project in Nevada, USA.
Towards the end of 2023, the company entered into a non-binding MOU with Middle East for Metallic Industrial (MidMetal) to pursue the development of a green, high-purity pig iron (GHPPI) project using HIsmelt technology in the USA or Saudi Arabia.
An engineering study has determined an estimated capital cost of about $410m for the project, along with an additional capital cost of $82.4m for the establishment of a biochar facility in Malaysia.
The project’s feed material will be sourced from imported magnetite concentrate produced at MGU’s Buena Vista project as well as from iron waste materials from existing iron ore facilities in Saudi Arabia and other potential locations.
Woodside Energy (ASX:WDS) has entered into a five year collaboration with Texas-based Rice University to scale up the commercialisation of new lower carbon technologies and solutions.
WDS will provide $12.5m to fund the creation of the ‘Woodside-Rice Decarbonisation Accelerator’, an initiative that aims to bring breakthrough technology from the Rice labs to market.
The goal of the accelerator is to fast-track the commercialisation of technologies, with a specific focus on manufacturing products derived from captured carbon dioxide and methane.
Rice hopes to leverage cold plasma technology, a unique approach to breaking down carbon dioxide. These products have potential applications to make better batteries, transistors, and other critical materials for energy technologies.