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Large-scale batteries: Supporting a more secure and reliable grid

Photo of large-scale solar farm with green fields in the background and battery storage modules in the foregroundImage credit: ARENATHE NEED

ARENA’s work to actively identify and troubleshoot issues arising from the energy transition includes a major focus on delivering the reliability and security benefits offered by large-scale batteries.

‘Big batteries’ are capable of playing a key role in safeguarding the reliability of supply and security of the electricity system. They can provide short-term energy storage and deliver rapid-response dispatchable power that is needed to keep the grid secure and reliable. Their role is expected to increase as the share of variable renewables in Australia’s power system continues to grow.

For large-scale batteries to participate in the market on a commercial basis there will need to be further reductions in cost, greater opportunities for battery operators to earn revenue, new business models that incorporate generation and storage, and updates to energy market regulations.


ARENA has committed $42 million to four demonstration projects focused on accelerating the development and commercialisation of large-scale batteries in Australia. Supported projects are required to share knowledge, experience and lessons with the broader industry and other interested entities so that benefits from ARENA’s support are spread widely.

Project information distributed through knowledge sharing activities this year included ARENA’s large-scale battery storage knowledge sharing workshop (attended by more than 60 participants from state and territory governments, market and regulatory bodies, developers, financiers, networks, consultants, technology developers and retailers); two public reports from the Electranet ESCRI project; and the ARENA Insights newsletter, which provided an update on the Lake Bonney battery as well as insights into the drivers, challenges and services that utility-scale storage offers.




Standalone at substation

ARENA funding:$2.3 million

30 MW / 30 MWh



Standalone and grid-connected

Can operate as microgrid with 90 MW wind farm

ARENA funding: $12.0 million

30 MW / 8 MWh



Co-located with 50 MW solar farm

ARENA funding: $22.7 million

25 MW / 50 MWh



Co-located with 279 MW wind farm

ARENA funding: $5.0 million

25 MW / 52 MWh


More solutions for delivering secure, reliable and affordable energy and increasing the value provided by renewable energy

Collectively, the Ballarat, Gannawarra, ESCRI and Lake Bonney batteries have demonstrated innovative technologies and operating capabilities that have progressed the large-scale battery sector in Australia. These include:

  • helping power system reliability by participating in the wholesale energy market and discharging to the grid when supply is otherwise scarce
  • providing Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), which help to stabilise the grid by either injecting or absorbing power to compensate for excessive drops or rises in frequency
  • providing backup power supply to local customers following planned or unplanned outages on the transmission network
  • delivering a System Integrity Protection Scheme, or SIPS, by providing fast-acting power response from the batteries to help maintain power system security.

During its first three months of operation, the Ballarat Energy Storage System was dispatched to provide FCAS more than 1400 times.

The Gannawarra project, Australia’s largest battery to be integrated with a solar farm, also involves the first existing solar farm to be retrofitted with battery storage. Being the first to achieve these configurations, the project has gained significant learnings, which it has shared with the energy sector.

The ESCRI battery is one of the first large-scale, grid-connected batteries to be designed, built and operated in Australia. This year it continued to demonstrate the ability of big batteries to improve the reliability of electricity supply at fringe-of-grid locations, and protect grid security by providing fast-response power and other services.

The Lake Bonney Energy Storage System examined ways that big batteries can earn revenue by trading power and providing FCAS. It was also the first project in Australia to demonstrate the ability of grid-scale batteries to reduce the costs associated with wind farms delivering variable power into the grid.

Improved competitiveness of renewable energy technologies

Collectively, these projects have identified and demonstrated ways that large-scale batteries can earn revenue from providing services. This will help potential investors to identify greater value in large-scale battery systems.

Industry and government better informed to navigate the energy transition

Sharing knowledge from ARENA’s large-scale battery projects has helped energy market organisations to adapt existing market rules and processes to the technology. Cost and performance data from ARENA’s projects are also being used by industry, financiers and electricity system modellers to inform decision-making and guide resource allocation.

Increased collaboration on energy innovation

A number of ARENA’s large-scale battery projects had complex contracting arrangements, with up to 15 different parties involved. Strong collaboration with AEMO during the grid connection process streamlined elements of the process, and ensured that any issues arising (particularly in non-standard developments such as standalone, unmanned systems) were approached with pragmatism.


Secure, reliable and affordable electricity system with a significantly higher share of renewable energy

Through first-of-a-kind demonstrations and sharing insights with industry, investors and regulators, ARENA’s big battery projects are helping to pave the way for the technology to commercially deliver reliability and security benefits to the grid.

Increase in employment in renewable energy activities

The projects directly supported employment in the renewables enablement sector, and facilitated a future pipeline that will support further employment. Barriers that have been identified and overcome in the projects are expected to make further investment in large-scale battery systems more attractive and viable. The Gannawarra project has also led to a pipeline of similar initiatives with planning permits in place for eight large-scale solar farms.