The country’s first sodium-sulphur (NAS) battery is operational at a mine in Western Australia as the industry explores new ways to transition to renewable energy.
The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Center (FBICRC) is behind the installation of the 250 kW/1.45 MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) demonstration unit, designed for long-term storage, at the IGO Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site.
German chemical giant BASF is part of the project, supplying the NAS-branded battery, which is charged by solar panels on top of the unit.
Although an Australian first, Shannon O’Rourke, CEO of FBICRC, pointed that out NAS battery technology is mature and has been successfully installed and used in over 250 locations around the world for the past 20 years.
“These field deployments have helped build confidence in the marketplace, train the workforce and build capacity in the contractor community,” he said.
IGO CEO Matt Dusci said they are focusing on research and development to accelerate both his company’s response to climate change and wider industry efforts.
“The BASF NAS battery trial at our Nova Operation is an important way to field-test the suitability of this unique technology in a mining environment and how it will contribute to a clean energy future,” he said.
NAS batteries are designed to store energy for a long period of time, typically 6-8 hours or more.
They have the ability to move large amounts of energy into periods of low renewable energy generation. This means that when renewable energy sources such as wind or solar do not produce enough energy, the NAS batteries can release the stored energy to meet demand.
In other words, they can help to balance the supply and demand of energy and ensure that there is a stable and reliable source of energy.
Battery performance will be assessed by the QUT-run National Battery Testing Center and the University of Western Australia.