Renaissance Energy are hoping to build the first niche and specific, lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” for storage in Australia by the end of 2018. The business, backed by UGL, the engineering group, states that the initial phase of the $100 million project will construct four individual production lines and is aiming to focus on the niche industrial and utility markets in South-East Asia and Australia.
With more than two years of planning behind it, the new factory – “Renaissance One” as it will be recognised, will produce battery storage systems designed for utility and commercial uses in government, defence and telecommunications sectors. Energy Renaissance, with business partners 24M, a US battery storage company, is thought to have at least the enthusiastic backing, if not the financial support of the new Labor government. While production will not be aimed at the household market, around 70 per cent of production will be targeted for export.
Darwin is an ideal location
Australia is the logical place for a factory that is capable of producing gigawatts of battery storage, taking into account the location of Darwin’s East Arm Industrial precinct and the access to shipping paths in Asia. As the demand to transition from gas and coal to other forms of energy increases, to date, demand in Australia for storage batteries has been quite low, but with the expectation that requirements will grow, production of manufactured batteries will certainly increase dramatically.
Brian Craighead, Managing Director of Renaissance Energy, stated in an interview with RenewEconomy that the most logical place to construct a battery storage plant was in Australia, because of its abundant sources of graphite, cobalt and lithium. Darwin was chosen over other locations such as Gladstone, Geelong and Newcastle, due not only to the support of the government, but also the local engineering expertise.
The key to the future is energy storage. Although at certain times, hybrid plants and pumped hydro work well, stored energy allows so many more possibilities.