November 16, 2018
  • The 25MW / 50MWh Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) has completed construction and began exporting electricity to the grid on 16 October 2018 in time for summer.
  • The project is among the largest integrated solar and battery facilities in the world (the largest in Australia) providing capacity to use solar energy at night.
  • Financing for the GESS was underpinned by $25 million of grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Victorian Government.
  • The project features a long-term commercial services agreement with EnergyAustralia, operator of the battery in conjunction with the offtake of the 60MWDC Gannawarra Solar Farm. This is an innovative model for incorporating batteries into retail and corporate offtake arrangements.

Victoria’s Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS), the largest integrated solar and battery storage facility in Australia, is now exporting and importing electricity to the grid and is ready to support the national energy system as demand rises over summer.

The project, developed by a consortium comprising Australian renewable energy and storage company, Edify Energy, Tesla and EnergyAustralia and co-financed by WIRSOL Energy, is currently completing commissioning and operating as a market participant in the National Electricity Market (NEM). GESS is capable of powering more than 16,000 homes through two hours of peak demand before being recharged.

This is the first time a utility-scale battery system has been retrofitted to an existing solar project, the Gannawarra Solar Farm, providing a new commercial model for other renewable and storage facilities in Australia.

Australian renewable energy company Edify Energy oversaw the deployment and construction of the project, which utilises Tesla’s lithium ion battery technology.

Energy retailer EnergyAustralia will charge and dispatch energy from the facility until 2030. This is in addition to a long-term agreement to buy all the electricity generated from the co-located Gannawarra Solar Farm.

EnergyAustralia will operate the combined solar farm and battery facility in a coordinated way that better serves the Victorian energy market than could be achieved by a stand-alone renewable asset.

GESS was selected by the Victorian Government under its Energy Storage Initiative to integrate a 25MW / 50MWh Tesla Powerpack battery with the 60MWDC Gannawarra Solar Farm. ARENA on behalf of the Australian Government and the Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) supported GESS with $25 million in grant funding. 

Edify Energy CEO John Cole sees this project being a real win for Victorian and Australian energy consumers in the enablement of a low-carbon energy future. “The entire sector is aware of the potential for storage projects to not only provide invaluable services to the market and the grid, but also to enable the roll out of more and more clean and cheap renewable energy.” 

“Solar plus storage is a ‘category killer’. We are very proud to have developed, structured and overseen the construction of two projects that together can serve as a model for wider adoption of storage into the market and the realisation of a high renewable future. We intend to continue our roll out of storage and renewables projects and help our corporate and other customers achieve their energy and sustainability objectives,” Mr Cole said. 

Mark Hogan, Managing Director of WIRSOL Energy said, “We are delighted to reach this crucial milestone at Gannawarra Solar Farm. The overall project and how it has evolved is unique to the industry which in turn sets a benchmark for future projects and enables the ability to optimise the delivery of energy at peak times supporting demand throughout the daily cycle, providing a range of direct and indirect benefits to Victorian and Australian consumers.” 

“We are proud to be a major contributor towards Victoria’s renewable energy target which also underwrites our own personal mission of deploying greater than one gigawatt of solar energy in Australia by the year 2020. Maintaining the deployment of solar, coupled with storage where appropriate, is a cornerstone in attaining sustainable and affordable clean energy, which is evidently now within reach on a global scale, specifically within Australia.” 

EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said the project is an example of what we can look forward to in a modern energy system that delivers reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for customers. 

“The ability to store and quickly release energy will help integrate renewables into the system as coal-fired plants progressively retire,” Ms Tanna said. “These are the new technologies and approaches that will come to underpin our energy system, keeping customers’ lights on and their costs down.” 

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio added that “We said we would deliver this for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. This Andrews Labor Government initiative is an important part of helping us transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system. We are continuing to modernise our electricity grid, strengthen our energy security and deliver real action on climate change.” 

Edify Energy developed, structured and provided construction management services for the project. In addition to continuing development of other projects in its portfolio, Edify Energy will undertake the long-term asset management role for GESS, on top of the asset management role it performs for the other projects Edify Energy has developed and overseen through construction, including the Gannawarra, Whitsunday, Hamilton, Daydream and Hayman Solar Farms.