A grid-connected battery and solar farm are being planned by Meridian Energy north of Auckland to improve the stability of the national grid, reduce the chance of network outages and allow more electricity to flow north from South Island generators.
Meridian has purchased 105 hectares of land adjacent to the Marsden Point oil refinery for the Ruakaka Energy Park, which will house a battery energy storage system (BESS) at least 100MW in capacity, as well as a utility-scale solar farm.
Meridian Head of Renewable Development Rebecca Knott says the energy park represents the beginning of Aotearoa’s next generation electricity grid and supports the country’s transition to 100% renewables.
“Aotearoa is moving to a fully renewable electricity system, which means generation will be made up of more intermittent sources like wind and solar. During periods of peak demand when there is little sun or wind, we will need stored energy that can be dispatched quickly.
“New battery technology can meet this challenge by delivering power when needed for short periods. We’re excited about the potential for Ruakaka Energy Park to contribute to a clean, modern and resilient energy grid for Aotearoa,” Knott says.
Installations of utility-scale batteries jumped by 50% worldwide last year, driven by the global shift toward renewables and a dramatic fall in battery costs. Meridian is one of many potential developers in Aotearoa and estimates between 4 and 5 batteries of this scale will need to be installed strategically around the country by 2030. The company expects the Marsden Point BESS to be operational by mid-2023.
“The BESS is the first of many we intend to build which will have the capacity to supply instantaneous power to the grid, and enable more electricity to flow from renewable generators in the South Island over the Cook Strait cable,” Knott says.
The solar farm will have the capacity to supply enough power for 15,000 households and will be constructed once the BESS is up and running.
“We’re currently talking to iwi and other community stakeholders about our plans for the site, and undertaking ecological and geotechnical site assessments as part of our due diligence,” Knott says.
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