Briefing Note | November 2021

Large scale batteries

Key Points

There are currently five large-scale lithium ion (Li-ion) battery installations operating in the National Electricity Market, for a total capacity of 265 MW (maximum energy 327 MWh). A small amount of additional battery storage is provided through the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) aggregating residential storage in South Australia. Other batteries under development include a 300MW battery in Victoria and a 50MW/75MWh battery in western Sydney. More than 30 other large scale battery projects have been proposed. We have developed a list of operational and proposed battery projects here, which we will update regularly.
The biggest, and most famous battery currently operating in Australia is the 150 MW Hornsdale Power Reserve. It was the largest Li-ion battery installation in the world at the time of commissioning and was famously delivered and installed in 100 days by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Although large scale Li-ion batteries range in total size, they are modular: made up of hundreds of smaller batteries connected together.
All five of these large scale batteries had significant financial support from third parties. All received funding from ARENA, and all but one had financial support from respective state governments. This suggests cost remains the main barrier to the rapid uptake of more batteries.
Four of the batteries are co-located with renewable energy projects (three wind, one solar). This can help reduce the cost of grid connection (by effectively sharing it).
The batteries are providing a range of services, including grid support and optimising the output of renewable plant, but are currently making the most impact in the market for frequency control (FCAS) where their speed of response is helping them outcompete traditional generation and pumped hydro storage.
The modular nature of batteries means they can be used in large, utility scale projects as well as distributed around homes and businesses. In the latter case, many small batteries can be managed together through a Virtual Power Plant.

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