World first renewable energy for the Silver City

By Paula Doran

The world’s largest compressed air facility using a disused mine outside Broken Hill is a step closer thanks to a hefty $45m of funding confirmed on Friday.

It means Broken Hill will be home to a world first and one of the world’s largest renewable mini-electricity grids, providing clean back-up energy for our city and region.

The Hydrostar development also has the potential to accommodate increased mining in the area.

Federal government body, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the $45 million for the Silver City Energy Storage Project Friday morning.

Funding will back the construction of a 200 MW/1600 MWh fuel-free energy storage facility, using compressed air energy storage technology which will create a back-up power supply for the region.

Back-up energy for Broken Hill will be crucial after Essential Energy moved to decommission the diesel back-up generation used in the city.

ARENA’s funding for the Silver City Energy Storage Project, developed by Hydrostor, is conditional on the project reaching financial close, which is expected to occur in late 2023.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said new technologies for medium duration storage will help to improve the economics of energy storage and give a range of options for 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,” Mr Miller said.

“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.

“The $652 million project operates by compressing air during times of low electricity prices, storing it and releasing it through a turbo-expander to generate electricity during times of high demand and high energy prices.”

The project will create 260 new jobs during construction and 70 ongoing roles.

World first project welcomed

Transgrid has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that funding will be provided for the project, which will be one of the world’s largest renewable mini-grids.

“This is a vote of confidence in the project, which demonstrates that clean energy solutions can provide the highest net benefit for consumers,” Executive General Manager of Network, Marie Jordan, said.

Broken Hill is currently supplied by one transmission line that runs 260km from Buronga.

“The Hydrostar solution has the potential to accommodate increased mining in the area,” Ms Jordan said.

Federal MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen said it was a win for the region and a win for Australia.

“The sun may not always shine, and the wind may not always blow, but the rain doesn’t always fall either, and just like we store water for when we need it – we can store renewable energy, while creating jobs and putting downward pressure on energy prices.”



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