The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a $100 million competitive funding round for grid-scale batteries with advanced inverters to support the grid.
Expressions of interest (EoI) will open in February 2022, with a due date of March 31, 2022. Selected bidders will be invited to submit a full application later in 2022.
The large-scale battery storage funding program will cater to 70 MW or larger energy storage projects operating in the National Electricity Market or Western Australia’s wholesale electricity market. The funding would also be available for existing grid-scale batteries seeking to retrofit advanced inverter capability.
The funding round will support three projects with a maximum grant of $35 million per project. Applications will be open for all battery storage technologies equipped with advanced inverters for the competitive funding round.
ARENA said the funding round aims to incentivize private sector investment and overcome barriers to developing advanced inverter technology. The agency will provide valuable insights into advanced inverters’ operations and emerging capabilities by funding advanced inverter technology at scale.
Advanced inverters allow grid-scale batteries to provide system stability traditionally provided by coal or gas. This would enable the grid to operate with a higher share of variable renewable power.
The latest funding round builds on ARENA’s previous grid-scale batteries and system security investments. ARENA’s CEO Darren Miller said the funding round would support grid-scale batteries that can provide system stability during periods of very high renewable generation. Miller added, “We’ve seen promising signs that advanced inverters can support system stability, but it’s clear public sector investment is still needed to prove the technology at scale. We’re confident that ARENA funding will help drive the uptake of this technology and provide valuable lessons that will benefit the industry as a whole.”
ARENA said it had funded six grid-scale batteries since 2017. The Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration project funded by ARENA is Australia’s largest grid-connected battery using advanced inverter technology.
In July 2021, Lumea, a commercial arm of TransGrid, issued an EoI to develop a 300 MW grid-scale battery storage system in Victoria, Australia. The company planned to develop the project without using government funding.
Early this year, AGL Energy, an Australia-based energy company, signed agreements with energy storage technology companies Wartsila and Fluence to supply up to 1 GW of grid-scale battery storage.