Cairns A Queensland Battery Blitz Beneficiary

Cairns - network battery

Cairns has been announced as one of the locations that will benefit from the Queensland Government’s recently announced battery blitz.

Last week the Palaszczuk Government said it would be rolling out another 13 large-scale batteries across the state as part of progress towards achieving its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, which is becoming a bigger challenge as time goes by.

One of the new storage systems will be a monster – a 400MWh battery at Greenbank, south of Brisbane. There are a bunch of details yet to be finalised, but it’s expected construction of that facility will begin next year. At this point, the preferred location for the 200MW / 400MWh battery is Powerlink’s Greenbank substation. CS Energy will install, own and operate the battery on Powerlink owned land.

As for the other batteries such as the one announced for Cairns, they’ll be significantly smaller in capacity – up to 8MWh.

“By basing the batteries at a substation in the community, it means renewable energy will be generated locally, stored locally, and then used locally, reducing the pressure on the upstream transmission network,” said Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni yesterday. “We’re adding more local renewable energy storage to the mix in Cairns that means locals can keep installing solar and saving money, by creating more capacity on the network.”

Cairns A Solar Power Hotspot

The popularity of PV keeps solar installers in Cairns pretty busy. Just in the 4870 postcode, which includes Cairns and Cairns North, more than 9,420 small-scale solar power systems with a collective capacity of 63,851 kW had been installed as at the end of May this year.  With a population of 73,803 (2021 Census), that works out to around 865 watts of solar capacity installed per person against an Australia-wide average of 678 watts per capita – so Cairns is punching well above its weight.

One of the challenges of having a lot of rooftop solar within a given area is it can create some local network management challenges, which can be alleviated through various strategies including the use of home batteries and community- and large-scale energy storage systems.

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said there will be other positives from the Cairns battery.

“This new battery system will deliver efficiencies for the network and also provide price benefits to residents and businesses across Cairns.”

.. and that would certainly be welcome, but perhaps he was referring to a wider effect right across regional Queensland as more batteries (and renewables) pop up.

On a related note, the Queensland Competition Authority was the bearer of bad news late last month. From July 1, regional Queensland power prices will be going up – a 9.2 per cent increase in the annual bill for a typical customer on the main residential tariff (tariff 11).

The QCA said the culprits behind the price rise were high demand, reduced generation availability from coal and gas plants, and higher coal and gas prices – but also a slowdown of renewables coming online. However, there was some good news for solar owners, with regional Queensland’s feed in tariff to jump by a whopping 41% to 9.3 c/kWh.

Related: Solar ‘101’ – Regional Queensland Edition

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. I’m a Cairns local, I did some cost projections for the next financial year. For my household the increased usage charges on Tariff 11 should just about be negated by the increase in solar FIT.

  2. George Kaplan says

    Seems like you’re lucky. Since the crash in FiTs here, all the various charges for power add up to more than the revenue from the solar generation, and the situation has only getting worse with the 15%-28% rise in all the aforesaid charges. 🙁

    I much preferred it when the power company sent IOUs rather than bills!

    How much longer before folk start dropping out of the grid altogether and opting for diesel generator plus battery and solar as the cheaper option?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Shop around, George. My parents in Queensland just had a 2.7 cent increase in their solar feed-in tariff.

      • George Kaplan says

        Ronald, I was looking at (I think) an 11c FiT when the company offering stopped doing so, and eyeing an 8c FiT when many (most?) companies cut their offerings. Capped kWh/day and capped system size plans aside there’s not much other than 5c offerings, plus a 2c plan.

        Energy Locals appears to be offering 44c/kWh but that sounds rather wrong so I must be misreading something!!!

        I’ll have another hunt round when things settle a bit more.

    • Geoff Miell says

      George Kaplan,
      How much longer before folk start dropping out of the grid altogether and opting for diesel generator plus battery and solar as the cheaper option?

      If folk do their homework then they may find staying connected to the grid is still significantly cheaper. And then there’s the smell/fumes and noise from a genset to consider (for owners/users & neighbours).

      For example, specs for an OFF-GRID Solar Backup 5.5kW Diesel Generator:
      * Prime Power : 4.6 kW / 5.0 kVA / 240 Volts / 50 Hz / 1-phase / 20 Amps;
      * Starter System : 12 volt Electric – Battery Included;
      * Noise Level : 70 dBA at 7 metres
      * Fuel Tank Capacity : 15 Litres (-/c Fuel Gauge);
      * Fuel Consumption : 1.1 Litres/Hour (average);
      * Price: $2,590.00 + shipping
      https://genworks.com.au/products/off-grid-solar-backup-5kw-diesel-generator

      National average retail weekly price per litre for diesel was 235.5 cents (for week ending 3 Jul 2022).
      https://aip.com.au/pricing/Diesel/National/National-Average

      MINIMUM run cost for diesel fuel to operate the genset referred above currently is around $2.60 per hour.

      I would not be at all surprised to see retail diesel fuel prices to cross the $2.50/litre threshold before the excise rate increases (adding another 22.1 cents per litre after Sep 28), and perhaps exceeding $3 by the end of this year, equating to a MINIMUM $3.30 per hour genset running costs. And I’d suggest it will likely get even more expensive in the next few years, at a faster increasing rate compared with the rate for petrol.
      https://twitter.com/crudeoilpeak/status/1543138431047729153/photo/1

      Perhaps SQ might like to crunch some numbers? Is it worth leaving the grid or staying? Where’s the threshold?

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