WA govt funds feasibility study for state’s largest big battery

Brandon How

The Western Australian government has put $1 million towards a feasibility study for a large renewable energy hub and big battery project in the south-west of the state.

The commitment will support Sunshot Energy conduct a the study for the Collie Battery and Hydrogen Industrial Hub Project. It is expected that the big battery would have a storage capacity of 600 to 800MWh, around four times the size of the Tesla big battery in South Australia. This will also make it the biggest battery in Western Australia.

Sunshot’s study will assess the economic case for a renewable powered hydrogen electrolyser, which could produce green ammonia and urea for agricultural and industrial uses. According to the state government, the project will have an estimated value of $730 million if undertaken. This includes 500 construction jobs and 400 operational jobs.

If undertaken, Sunshot Energy’s project will help Western Australia’s coal hub in its green transition.

Western Australia’s Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said the development would help decarbonise industry in Collie.

“It makes sense for Collie, which is at the heart of the South-West energy system, to become a renewable energy industrial hub as we transition away from the coal industry. This project will provide a firm basis to progress a renewable energy hub in Collie,” Minister MacTiernan said.

WA Legislative Assembly member for Collie-Preston Jodie Hanns said the development had the potential to attract new industries to the town, such as the processing of battery minerals.

The support for Sunshot’s feasibility project is through the $18 million Collie Futures Industry Development Fund. Firms must make a minimum co-contribute to funded projects equal to the grant they received.

Collie is Western Australia’s coal hub but is managing a shift towards green industries through the Just Transition Plan. To be executed over 2021-25, the plan aims to encourage investment in low emissions technology while maintaining local job opportunities and upskilling the existing workforce.

When the plan was launched in 2020, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said that the plan would boost the local economy while respecting the community.

“Collie has been integral to the State’s economy and energy landscape for decades, and the town has a proud history of powering Western Australia. As WA’s energy system shifts from traditional generation to increased reliance on renewable energy and storage, our dependence on coal will naturally decline,” Premier McGowan said.

“The Just Transition plan is all about managing the impact this change will have on the local workforce, and the wider community.

The town is also home to the state’s oldest power station, the coal-fired Muja Power Station, which will be decommissioned by 2024.

Sunshot energy is chaired by Ross Garnaut who was a senior economic advisor to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke between 1983-95 and a climate change adviser to the Commonwealth between 2007-11.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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