The Victorian Big Battery (VBB) project is a 300MW/450MWh battery energy storage project under construction in Victoria, Australia. It will be the biggest battery storage facility in Australia, upon commissioning.
The grid-scale battery storage facility is being developed by French renewable energy company Neoen, which also operates the Hornsdale battery power reserve at Jamestown, in South Australia.
Neoen will operate the VBB energy storage system through its Australian subsidiary Victorian Big Battery. The battery storage facility is expected to have a useful life of more than 20 years.
Neoen reached the financial close on the project in February 2021, while the construction works had been started in the previous month.
Scheduled to enter service by the end of 2021, the Victorian Big lithium-ion battery project will store cheap solar and wind energy and can power approximately one million Victorian homes for 30 minutes. It will support peak load on Victoria’s electricity transmission network while helping to prevent grid blackouts.
By integrating more renewable power into the grid, the project will also complement the Victorian Government’s policy goal to achieve 40% energy generation through renewables by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
Fire incident during Victorian Big battery testing
One of the battery packs of the Victorian Big battery storage project caught fire during initial testing on 30 July 2021. The fire spread to another battery pack damaging two battery compartments that caused the facility to be disconnected from the grid. The incident was declared under control on 02 August 2021.
Investigation following the incident identified that short circuits due to a coolant leakage outside the battery compartment had caused the fire.
Neoen secured approvals from safety regulators to resume battery testing at the site in September 2021.
Location and site details
The Victorian Big battery storage project is located 13km north-west of Geelong in Victoria, Australia.
The site lies adjacent to the existing Moorabool Terminal Station, which is owned and operated by AusNet Services, the operator of the high-voltage electricity transmission network in Victoria.
Victorian Big battery storage facility make-up
The 300MW/450MWh Victorian Big battery energy storage facility will comprise 210 Tesla Megapack lithium-ion battery units.
Each Megapack that comes pre-assembled and pre-tested from Tesla’s Gigafactory is equipped with battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, along with an alternate current (AC) main breaker and controls in one enclosure, allowing faster installation.
Designed for grid-scale operations, each battery pack offers a maximum energy storage capacity of 3MWh.
The Victorian Big battery storage facility also houses two 180MVA 220/33kV power transformers that were energised in July 2021.
The electricity from the Victorian Big battery energy storage facility will be transmitted through a 220kV power line connecting AusNet’s Moorabool electrical substation.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), an Australian state-owned green bank established in 2012, offered a senior debt facility of A$160m ($127m) for the Victorian Big battery project.
Grid service contract for the Victorian Big battery project
The Victorian Big battery project is backed by a 250MW grid service contract awarded by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in November 2020.
The contract was awarded as part of the Victorian Government’s Systems Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) to ensure automatic and instantaneous response by battery storage facilities to avoid unexpected electricity network failures in the state.
The SIPS contract will allow the battery storage facility to provide up to 250MW of additional peak capacity to the Victoria-New South Wales (NSW) Interconnector during Australian summers until 2032.
The remaining 50MW of stored electricity from the battery will be sold in energy markets over the peak summer months between November and March each year, while the entire 300MW will be available for sale at other times.
Contractors involved in Australia’s biggest battery storage project
Tesla was contracted to supply a 300MW/450MWh Megapack battery system for the Victorian Big battery storage project in October 2020.
The contractual scope also included the delivery of Tesla’s artificial intelligence (AI)-driven proprietary autonomous energy bidding software platform Autobidder to enable real-time energy transactions and optimise the battery storage operations.
Wilson Transformers, a transformer manufacturer based in Australia, supplied the two power transformers for the battery energy storage project.
D Form Civil and Symal Infrastructure were engaged for the civil construction works of the project, while Pearce Geotech was subcontracted to test construction materials and concrete.
UGL, a subsidiary of CIMIC Group, was engaged to install the battery packs at the site, while Dando Electrical Solutions was subcontracted for air conditioning installation.
Aurecon Group, an international engineering, project management and consulting company, provided strategic and technical advisory services to Neoen for the Victorian Big battery project.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth, a commercial law firm based in Australia, advised Tesla on the VBB project, while White & Case, an international law firm based in New York, US, advised Neoen on the development and financing of the project.