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Australia to Build Largest Battery in Southern Hemisphere

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Australia to Build Largest Battery in Southern Hemisphere
The new battery will be double the size of the South Australian one that had been the largest in the world when it was built in 2017 (pictured). Tesla

The Australian state of Victoria will build the largest battery in the Southern Hemisphere to assist in its planned transition to renewable energy.


Victoria has committed to sourcing 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, The Age reported. The new lithium-ion battery will have a capacity of 300 megawatts and provide 85 jobs.

"The big battery will help protect our network in summer, create jobs and drive down energy prices, as well as supporting our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic," Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said Thursday, The Age reported. "Victoria is embracing new technologies that will unlock more renewable energy projects than ever before."

 

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The battery was first floated in April and originally set to be 600 megawatts and cost $300 million, The Guardian reported. Energy company Neoen has since won a contract to build a 300-megawatt version with Tesla equipment. It will be double the size of the South Australian battery that had been the largest in the world when it was built in 2017. However, projects planned in California and New York will be larger than both.

The battery will have the capacity to power half a million homes for one hour, Australia's ABC News reported, but its main purpose will be to provide backup energy to the grid to prevent blackouts. It is therefore an example of technology designed both to combat the climate crisis and adapt to it.

"We know in the time of climate change, our summers are getting far hotter and much longer, so that means there is increased strain on our thermal generators," D'Ambrosio said.

Victoria has signed an $84 million contract with Neoen, while the company will pay for the installation itself. However, an independent analysis found that customers would see a return of $2 for every dollar invested in the project. It is expected to be completed by November 2021.

Environment Victoria welcomed the news.

"This is a game-changer for Victoria's transition from old coal-burning power stations to clean energy," Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said in a press release.

La Nauze said the project would help the state move toward shuttering the coal-fired Yallourn power station.

The Victorian Greens also applauded the new battery, but said the state needed to do more.

"Now the government needs to go one step further and actually admit we need to get off coal in Victoria," acting party leader Ellen Sandell told The Guardian.

Australia is one of the leading exporters of coal, despite the fact that it is especially vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, as the devastating wildfires that burned from late 2019 to early 2020 attested.

However, a new analysis reported by The Guardian found that Australia's emissions from electricity, transport and gas fell by 4.6 percent for the 12 months ending in July 2020 when compared to the 12 months prior. What's more, the drop was driven less by the coronavirus pandemic than by the shift to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

"Renewables in Australia are now cheaper and more popular than fossil fuels, and we expect a lot more renewables coming on line soon," Australia Institute climate and energy program director Richie Merzian told The Guardian.


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