Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub (MREH) will include a 12.5MW co-located solar farm and 1,200MW/ 2.4GWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). (Credit: jaidee from Pixabay)
MREH Phase I is scheduled to start operations in 2025. (Credit: Kecko/ Flickr)
Lumea to deliver a critical 500kV connection as part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub (MREH). (Credit: Lumea)

Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub (MREH), previously known as Melton Renewable Energy Hub, is one of the largest battery projects in the world.

The project is being built near Melton, Victoria, Australia, by government-owned State Electricity Commission (SEC) and renewable energy investor Equis Australia.

The MREH is approved to include a 12.5MW co-located solar farm and 1,200MW/ 2.4GWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

MREH has completed all required planning, environmental approvals and community impact assessments. It has also been awarded ‘Project of State Significance’ with the Victorian Government gazetting a Planning Scheme amendment in April 2021.

The project will be developed in two phases.

Construction on MREH Phase 1, which will entail an investment of A$1bn ($660m), commenced in November 2023. It is scheduled to start operations in 2025.

MREH Location

MREH BESS will be located at 77-347 Holden Road, Plumpton and 67 Victoria Road, Plumpton, Victoria.

The site is 25km northwest of Melbourne’s central business district (CBD).

Landscaping buffers comprising of native plants will be placed to integrate the facility with its surroundings and minimise visual impact.

Background Details

The MREH project was originally proposed by Syncline Energy. It was then acquired by Equis in November 2022.

It is also the first project to be funded by the SEC, which is co-developing the project in partnership with Equis Australia.

SEC also announced an investment of A$245m in the project, while Equis is set to make an equity investment of more than A$510m in MREH Phase I.

During 2020 and 2021, detailed grid modelling, noise assessments, traffic flow analysis, and other studies were carried out.

Planning overlay was granted and gazetted in July 2021, followed by Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) approval in June 2023. The project secured Cultural Heritage Management Plan approval in July 2023.

It was approved by the Federal Government in October 2023.

MREH Project Development

The MREH Phase I (600MW/ 1,600MWh) will have three stages.

The first two projects will comprise 400MWh of two-hour storage capacity each. It will be owned 70% by Equis and 30% by SEC.

The third stage with 800MWh of four-hour storage capacity will be owned 51% by Equis and 49% by the SEC.

The remaining 600MW will have up to 12 hours capacity.

MREH Phase I and II will be connected to the National Electricity Market’s (NEM) high-voltage 500kV transmission system.

The project is being developed with up to six separate 200MW points of connection to the NEM allowing different uses and grid responses for the BESS.

MREH will store wind, hydro and solar energy from regional Victoria, and will be designed to absorb excess roof-top solar energy from the homes.

It will feature inverter technology to support the transmission grid’s voltage and frequency.

Once fully complete, Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub will be capable of servicing up to 2.2 million households for two hours.

Additionally, the battery system will help in replacing ‘system inertia’ as coal and gas fired power stations are set to be decommissioned over the next decade.

Contractors Involved

Ecolink Consulting conducted biodiversity assessments to address the impacts of MREH development on the natural environment in Plumpton.

Spiire’s Town Planning, Urban Design, Surveying, Integrated Water, Landscape Architecture and Visual Media teams were engaged to secure planning approval for the project.

In November 2023, Lumea, an Australia-based energy infrastructure services provider, was engaged to deliver a 500kV connection as part of the MREH project.

Under the contract, Lumea will design, construct, own, operate and maintain the connection assets over a 25-year term.

Lumea’s scope of work includes a 500kV substation and a 1.75km 500kV cable connecting MREH to the National Electricity Market at the existing Sydenham Terminal Station West of Melbourne Airport.

AusNet will also be associated with providing connecting transmission infrastructure.

In November 2023, power and communications infrastructure provider GenusPlus Group, in partnership with Samsung C&T, won three contracts for the engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) for the Balance of Plant scope and BESS installation for Phase I of MREH. The combined value of the contract is approximately A$200m.

Tesla will provide 444 fully integrated Tesla Megapack Batery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) for the project.

Herbert Smith Freehills was engaged to advise the SEC on its A$245m investment in the MREH, while White & Case advised Equis on equity and contractual close for the project.