PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) has unveiled the re-purposing of the defunct mine in Broken Hill, in New South Wales, for renewable energy storage, using compressed air.
Arena has conditionally approved A$45-million in funding to construct a 200 MW / 1600 MWh fuel-free energy storage facility, developed by Canadian energy storage developer Hydrostor Inc, using its Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology.
The A$652-million Silver City energy storage project will compress air during the day, store it in a cavity at a disused mine, and use it to power homes and businesses in the evening when demands is highest, placing downward pressure on electricity prices and providing reliable backup power for Broken Hill.
Hydrostor will repurpose the disused mine for its fuel-free underground air-storage facility, which will be connected to Transgrid’s Broken Hill substation via a 16 km transmission line.
Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the project would be Australia’s largest medium duration storage project, besides pumped hydro, and will create jobs and keep the lights on.
“As Australia transforms to a more renewable economy, the government is investing in the technologies that will enable us to store more renewable energy so we can use it when we need it,” Bowen said.
“New technologies for medium duration storage like Hydrostor’s technology can provide cheaper energy storage that can help move the nation’s electricity grid to 82% renewables by 2030.
“The private sector has never been keener to invest in innovative projects crucial for Australia’s energy transformation, and we’re delivering the policy certainty and investment support to ensure these projects come forward.
“The cheapest form of energy by a country mile is renewable energy, backed by transmission and storage, and we’re making sure Arena’s funding enables Australians to grasp this opportunity,” Bowen said.
Arena CEO Darren Miller said new technologies for medium duration storage would help to improve the economics of energy storage and give Australia a range of options for its future energy storage needs.
“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% renewable energy by 2030.
“Hydrostor’s innovative solution provides us with another option to add to the mix. As a fuel-free storage technology, compressed air storage technology has similar applications to pumped hydro, such as providing dispatchability required to ensure reliability of the power system as more solar and wind power is installed.
“In Australia’s regional towns at the fringe of the grid such as Broken Hill, new large-scale storage technologies can provide back-up power to communities that will improve the reliability of electricity supply. Having more grid scale storage will also support more solar and wind in regional areas,” he said.