The Project

Detailed summary of the Yadlamalka Energy project

Background

Yadlamalka Energy is an innovative renewable energy project in South Australia, comprising co-located Vanadium Flow battery energy storage (2MW – 8MWh AC) and Solar Photovoltaic (PV) farm (6MWp DC), integrated behind a DC-coupled inverter. It is located at the Neuroodla electricity substation, near Yadlamalka sheep station about 80km north of Port Augusta, South Australia, an area with very favourable solar radiation.

The project will supply a combination of solar power and battery storage services to the grid. The vanadium flow battery will take advantage of the significant intraday price variation in South Australia to time shift power from midday to peak periods in the evenings and mornings. The project will also participate in the Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) market which helps maintain stability of the electricity system.

Through using breakthrough technology in the form of vanadium flow batteries, we can deliver strong, economic infrastructure benefit to South Australia and at the same time support a low carbon economy.

Vanadium flow batteries are fully containerised, non-flammable units reusable over semi-infinite cycles, able to discharge 100% of the stored energy and do not degrade. In the words of Barack Obama “They are the multi-mega watt energy solution” and “one of the coolest things” he has ever spoken about!

Vanadium flow batteries have significant advantages over lithium in longer duration time shifting applications. Our batteries will be able to discharge at a power of 2MW per hour for four hours. They are suitable for heavy cycling because, unlike lithium, they do not degrade. We plan to fully charge and discharge the battery at least once a day and possibly twice, depending on pricing conditions.

The Yadlamalka Energy project will contribute to solving the distributed and intermittent energy problems that exist in South Australia, which are expected to intensify as we rely more and more on renewable energy sources. It will commercialise breakthrough technology to help meet Australia and the world’s future energy needs.

The Team

Yadlamalka Energy is led by Andrew Doman, an Australian, who is the main investor and property owner of Yadlamalka.

The project team is comprised of Australian and global energy and construction specialists:

  • SwitchCo, specialist renewable energy project managers based in Victoria;
  • Invinity, Vanadium flow battery manufacturers based in Canada and the UK;
  • Next Generation Electrical, national EPC providers constructing solar farm and battery installation and;
  • Habitat Energy, UK and Australian specialists in energy trading optimisation for grid scale batteries.

The University of Adelaide is a knowledge sharing partner.

Australia’s Energy Market

Australia has made a strong commitment to renewable energy.

One of the paradoxes of reliance on renewables is the increased risk of power outages as we become more reliant on sun and wind resources. South Australia’s energy supply is particularly vulnerable since the closure of the Port Augusta thermal power station, resulting in voltage instability and black outs. As a result, intraday electricity price volatility is more pronounced in South Australia than other states, which can still fall back on coal fired thermal power generation. This is evidenced by low price periods during peak solar generation in the middle of the day, and steep peak prices in the morning and evening, when demand for energy is high. This price volatility makes South Australia a particularly attractive market for battery storage arbitrage. Stability support (FCAS) is also paid to storage providers during significant stability events.

The challenge is that none of the existing storage technologies really meet the need for medium duration (4+ hours) storage to address early morning and evening demand periods, particularly on days when wind is not available.

Australia has a long history of investing in pumped hydro in the Snowy Mountains, taking advantage of existing mechanical technology. Pumped hydro is an excellent source of energy with low Levelised Cost of Storage (LCOS), the industry measure used for comparing storage technologies, but requires huge capital investment and lengthy construction timelines. Suitable sites in Australia are few and far between and the most promising are in remote locations, some distance from markets and with significant transmission losses.

The market is now investing heavily into lithium-ion. Lithium batteries can make a useful contribution to solving the <1 hr problem of intermittency but are of short duration and deteriorate quickly, resulting in a limited lifetime. The main advantage of lithium storage is that it is relatively dense and hence is suitable for mobile applications, notably phones and cars.

More about the SA Electricity Market

Summary

Yadlamalka Energy will leverage the ability of heavy-duty cycling vanadium flow batteries to provide, multiple benefits to the grid network.

Vanadium Flow Battery Storage Technology:

  • Is a non-degrading asset with virtually zero capacity loss over the lifetime of the asset (25-years);
  • Has typical energy storage capacities of at least four hours;
  • Has the ability to cycle heavily without power or capacity degradation;
  • Shares many key pumped hydro storage characteristics however with additional benefits of sub-second response to external signals (enabling FCAS revenues);
  • Can be deployed at both small (>125kW) and large scale (multi-MW) rapidly;
  • Can be deployed locally where distributed networks require support;
  • Reduces transmission losses as it brings large-scale energy storage closer to where it is needed on the grid;
  • Is safe, with no fire risk – protecting Australia’s fire prone areas, a major advantage over lithium-ion battery technology;
  • Has lower operational and maintenance costs than lithium-Ion;
  • Greater siting flexibility
  • And is re-usable, and recyclable. Vanadium electrolytes can be reused when the battery is removed (by contrast there are few working, economically viable technologies for recycling the majority of materials in lithium-ion batteries).

Its main disadvantage is that it offers relatively low-density energy storage, making it suitable only for stationary applications – such as grid scale support.

The project will contribute to Australia’s move towards a low carbon economy, saving an estimated 4,000 to 4,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Carbon performance will be monitored along with the live carbon intensity of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and South Australia using a range of data feeds (i.e. electricitymap.org) to demonstrate the value of energy storage to increase low-priced and low-carbon periods.

Yadlamalka Energy will co-locate PV (solar electricity panels) and Vanadium Flow battery storage behind a single network connection to optimise the capital costs associated with deploying the two projects independently and improve the efficiency of creating dispatchable and firm solar power. The solar farm will use the grid connection during sunshine hours and the battery will use the connection at other times.

Pricing & Revenue

Energy storage deployment has grown rapidly over the last five years primarily due to the significant growth of renewable energy projects which, as noted above, increase intraday wholesale energy market arbitrage opportunities and the requirement for flexibility to balance instantaneous supply and demand.

In a “pay-as-clear” wholesale energy market such as Australia, where renewable and thermal plants are automatically dispatched based on an energy price merit order, as the share of renewables continues to grow, conventional thermal generation and peaking plants begin to get pushed out of the merit order, reducing their running hours. This effect increases market volatility still further and presents attractive opportunities for storage assets such as vanadium flow batteries (with longer storage periods than lithium-ion) that can charge during the lowest energy price periods and discharge during peak periods at a lower price than alternative peaking plants.

Habitat Energy, a partner in the project, will employ their proprietary optimisation platform to perform sophisticated energy price forecasting based on weather forecasting of renewable energy availability and machine learning models of both supply and demand.  These models predict electricity prices for every five minute auction period based on estimates of power usage, supply, availability of sun and other factors on a rolling 24 hour basis. This information is then used to optimise dispatch of power and frequency support from our Solar PV farm output and vanadium flow battery to maximise energy revenues and project returns.

Timing

Yadlamalka Energy generation is schedule to be commissioned in November 2021. We will be posting updates on the performance of the battery and the project on this website at regular intervals, as generation begins.