WA’s Biggest Battery: KBESS Construction Update

Kwinana Big Battery

KBESS: Artist’s Impression

The first energy storage units were installed at Synergy’s big battery site in the Perth suburb of Kwinana on Friday.

The 100MW/200MWh Kwinana Battery Storage System (KBESS), situated behind the decommissioned Kwinana Power Station1, will consist of 600 CATL LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) battery units.

CATL Batteries - Kwinana

Originally announced by WA Premier Mark McGowan  and Minister for Energy Bill Johnston in October 2020, New HOrizons Ahead (NHOA – formerly Electro Power Systems- Engie EPS) was awarded the contract for construction of KBESS in October last year. The facility should be operational by the end of 2022.

The WA Government is stumping up most of the cash ($140 million) for KBESS, and the Federal Government has chipped in $15 million.

KBESS Supporting WA’s Coal-Free Transition

KBESS will support system stability and help with the transition to increased renewables; soaking up surplus energy generated by rooftop solar power systems2 during the day and discharging it into the grid when electricity demand increases during the late afternoons and evenings.

The Kwinana Big Battery will provide important learnings for future Synergy energy storage projects. And there’s a lot more to come – 1,100 megawatts of capacity over the next five years. This was announced as part of a projected $3.8 billion investment in renewable generation and energy storage in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) as WA dumps coal power and moves towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Increasing energy storage over the next decade will be crucial to addressing system security risks, such as high levels of rooftop solar generation, and ensuring reliable power supply to Western Australia’s main electricity grid,” said WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston.

Kwinana MLA Roger Cook seems pretty pumped about the big battery project.

“This is another significant stride into the future for the Kwinana industrial area, and the local community,” he said. “The technology and expertise in Kwinana makes huge contributions to the State’s economy. But on top of this, Kwinana is also playing a key role in the energy transformation of our State.”

The KBESS project is creating close to 140 jobs during the construction phase.

As well as being home to around 45,800 (it’s the second fastest growing local government area in Western Australia), the City of Kwinana is a major industrial area. The Kwinana Strategic Industrial Area is a centre for chemical and resource based processing industries – including lithium processing.

Australia’s first battery-grade lithium hydroxide was produced at Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia’s plant in Kwinana in May this year. The plant is one of the few battery-grade lithium hydroxide facilities outside of China at this point in time.

Footnotes

  1. Kwinana Power Station was built in 1970 as an oil-burner, then converted to coal and a gas turbine added. Synergy’s second-largest power station, it was closed in 2015. Immediately south of the shuttered plant is Cockburn Power Station, a gas-burner still operating.
  2. There are a bunch of solar panels installed in Kwinana, but it’s assumed these won’t be the only systems feeding surplus energy into the battery.
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.

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