Australia’s biggest energy companies are piling into batteries, as they look for the next wave of investments in the electricity market while the next phase of coal plant retirements nears.

EnergyAustralia has announced it is seeking a partner for the Wooreen Energy Storage System in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, where its Yallourn coal mine and power station are set to close in 2028.

It says the 350MW installation would be the largest big battery in the world, although California’s Moss Landing battery (where an overheating issue this month suspended operations) has recently added a second 100MW facility on top of its main 300MW first stage system.

At 350MW it would be larger than the biggest battery currently in or close to operation in Australia, with Neoen’s Victorian Big Battery near Geelong coming in at 300MW.

Traditional electricity generators and providers have been hit by tough market conditions and uncertainty, as renewables increase their penetration and begin to displace ageing coal generators from the grid.

EnergyAustralia has joined other legacy energy firms like AGL, Alinta and Origin in investing in battery storage technologies to provide grid stability services for renewables and other generators.


Clear timeline for battery project

The Wooreen battery would be co-located with the 450MW Jeeralang gas plant and enter operations by 2026, two years ahead of Yallourn’s closure.

Energy Australia says it will name an EPC partner in the first quarter of 2023, with planning applications with Victorian authorities due in the first quarter of 2022.

‘Co-located with EnergyAustralia’s Jeeralang gas-fired power station, the Wooreen Energy Storage System (formerly named Jeeralang Battery) will provide cover for more than 230,000 Victorian households for four hours before being recharged,” EnergyAustralia COO Liz Westcott said.

“Its quick release during periods of high demand will provide immense value in maintaining supply and keeping costs down for customers.

“Beginning mid-September, expressions of interest will open for businesses that are able to engineer, procure and construct our new battery storage facility that will become integral to Australia’s modern energy system.”

“Our future preferred contractor will help to maximise local participation within the Latrobe Valley and broader Gippsland region by drawing on the expertise of neighbouring suppliers and construction personnel.”

EnergyAustralia says the battery will enable more renewables to come into the grid in the Latrobe Valley region.

The company currently operates two utility-scale battery storage systems in Victoria, the Ballarat terminal station and co-located Gannawarra solar farm battery assets, which have a combined storage capacity of 80MWh.

It says its renewable energy agreements, at a value of around $3 billion, comprise 6.5% of the large-scale wind and solar projects in the National Electricity Market.