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Australia taps Fluence, Tesla for 55 MW of batteries to integrate renewables

Fluence, a joint venture of AES Corp. and Siemens AG, and Tesla Inc. will supply 55 MW/80MWh of lithium-ion batteries at two sites in Victoria, Australia, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency said March 22, announcing A$50 million in state and federal funding for the projects as part of the country's rapid rollout of energy storage.

Working with Spotless Group Holdings Ltd., Fluence will supply a 30-MW/30-MWh system at a substation owned by grid operator AusNet Services Ltd, which will own the A$33 million battery project. Tesla will supply a 25-MW/50-MWh system to Edify Energy Pty. Ltd. and Wirsol Energy Pty. Ltd. that will be integrated with a 60-MW solar facility. The project builds on a 100-MW/129-MWh battery facility Tesla completed in November 2017 at a wind farm in South Australia.

Underpinned by long-term contracts with retail power supplier EnergyAustralia Pty. Ltd., the two projects will help integrate renewable energy in the transmission-constrained western region of Victoria, which is forced to curtail existing wind and solar generation, the Australian government said. Both projects are scheduled to start construction in March and come online later this year in time to provide critical reliability services and peak power during Australia's summer.

"Across Australia there is a need for storage," Praveen Kathpal, a vice president at Fluence, said in an interview, calling the country "a perfect storm" for the technology because many coal plants are retiring at the same time that large volumes of renewable energy generation are being added to a grid that is "relatively thin."

"Battery storage will play a crucial role in the future energy mix, alongside other forms of storage and in conjunction with variable renewables and demand management," Ivor Frischknecht, head of the country's renewable energy agency, said in a press release.