The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced support for two new dispatchable electricity projects on Friday, involving the use of thermal energy and compressed air to store and release energy.
On Friday the federal government agency announced $422,582 in support for a feasibility study at AGL Energy’s Torrens Island Power Station B in South Australia.
Electricity will be used to charge thermal energy storage, to then be released to run existing 200 megawatt steam turbines.
The study will run over approximately 12 months, with two companies shortlisted to provide energy storage solutions:
According to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Integrated System Plan, the National Electricity Market (NEM) is likely to need over 60 gigawatts of dispatchable generation and storage by 2050 to support the predicted uptake of renewable energy.
ARENA’s CEO Darren Miller said the study will explore the role of thermal energy storage in allowing higher levels of renewable energy production across the NEM through the repurposing of power stations and energy infrastructure.
“As thermal power stations close, there could be an opportunity to retrofit these sites as we head towards net zero emissions,” said Miller.
The second project repurposing existing assets involves converting a disused mine in Broken Hill to store energy as compressed air, with 200 megawatt / 1600 megawatt hour capacity.
ARENA said on Friday that it had conditionally approved $45 million in funding for Hydrostor’s Silver City Energy Storage Project, conditional on the project reaching financial close (expected in late-2023.)
Hydrostor’s technology is described as an alternative to pumped hydro storage, with energy stored as compressed air when electricity prices are low and released through a turbo-expander to generate electricity when prices and demand are high.
“The $652 million project will re-purpose a disused mine to facilitate the development of a subsurface air-storage cavity that will be used to store compressed air,” according to the statement from ARENA.
“Whether it be through pumped hydro, or innovative solutions like compressed air storage, medium and long duration storage is going to be vital to supplying power during the evening and morning peak-demand periods as Australia looks towards achieving 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” said Miller.
Picture: MGA Thermal