Meridian Energy has been granted resource consent from Whangārei District Council and Northland Regional Council for the construction of Aotearoa’s largest grid-connected battery energy storage system at Ruakākā, north of Auckland.
The 100MW battery storage will provide additional reserve power and resilience to the national grid, accelerate the growth of renewable generation and support the transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.
The battery storage will cover an area the size of two rugby fields, with construction beginning early next year on land adjacent to the former Marsden Point oil refinery. It is expected to be completed in 2024.
Meridian Head of Renewable Development Rebecca Knott says obtaining consent is a critical milestone for the project, which will improve the resilience of Northland’s regional network and Aotearoa’s electricity system as a whole.
“It will provide reserve power in the event of insufficient generation by allowing more electricity to flow north from the South Island, and by storing power from the grid during off-peak periods. When fully charged, it would be capable of powering 60,000 average households for two hours over a winter’s evening,” Knott says.
In addition to improving resilience and reducing the chance of network outages, Knott says the battery storage will likely have a modest positive impact on regional and national power prices.
“We’ve seen our electricity system come under occasional strain with supply issues that have led to price instability. The battery storage will help to reduce these events by smoothing the distribution of supply and demand.
“It will also help to facilitate the integration of more renewable generation, potentially leading to the earlier retirement of fossil fuel-fired power plants in the North Island,” Knott says.
This is the first stage of Meridian’s Ruakākā Energy Park, which will also house a 125MW solar farm. Knott says the project will benefit the local economy through employment opportunities during construction.
“We’re talking to a number of contractors for the initial stage of construction, including earthworks, civil and electrical works, and looking forward to engaging further with local businesses as this important project takes shape.
“We are also continuing our work with iwi and other community stakeholders about the best use of the site to ensure their interests are well represented,” Knott says.
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