Port Augusta's big battery gains development approval

MILESTONE: SIMEC Energy Australia is a member of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, owner of Whyalla Steelworks. Photo: supplied.
MILESTONE: SIMEC Energy Australia is a member of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, owner of Whyalla Steelworks. Photo: supplied.

SIMEC Energy Australia has secured development approval for the proposed Playford Utility Battery to be built just outside of Port Augusta.

The battery is tipped to be one the world's most powerful, equaling Elon Musk's Tesla battery in Hornsdale.

The new battery will be built by Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta, who secured a $10 million loan from the State Government through its Renewable Technology Fund.

Mr Gupta plans to invest about $1bn in renewable energy projects, including the Cultana solar farm at Whyalla where construction is due to begin in coming months.

SIMEC Energy Australia CEO, Mr Marc Barrington said securing development approval was an important milestone for the company.

"Delivering this important firming asset into the National Electricity Market, will provide greater stability and enable SIMEC Energy Australia to provide globally competitive energy to our customers," he said.

"The battery will provide significant benefits for the region and energy users who partner with SIMEC Energy Australia for their energy needs."

Artist rendition of the battery site.

Artist rendition of the battery site.

Not only will the Project provide direct and indirect employment opportunities in Port Augusta and surrounding areas, it will also assist in the transformation of the Whyalla Steelworks by enabling the supply of cheaper and cleaner energy.

The Playford Battery is forecast to create around 100 direct jobs during its construction phase, and the project team will look to recruit these positions from the local community.

Once the battery is energised, it is anticipated there will be approximately five ongoing operation and maintenance positions comprising skilled trades that will either be drawn from or added to the local community.

SIMEC Energy Australia will also establish a community benefit fund, which will deliver funding grants throughout the life of the project, through an independent committee.

Playford Battery has a nominal capacity of 100MW/100MWh, with the capability to provide a peak response of 135MW when demand is at its highest.

While development approval has been granted, funding is still in negotiation.

"This asset is also being considered under the ARENA Advancing Renewables Program," Mr Barrington said.

"This funding, if realised, will bring this project to life - enabling its delivery - as well as continuing to enhance retail electricity competition within South Australia."

The project site is located along Port Patterson road, almost smack in the middle of the new Port Playford and Sundrop Farms.

The battery further pushes Port Augusta's renewable capital of Australia narrative.