A major renewable company has released plans to build one of the world's largest battery projects on the outskirts of Tamworth and Armidale in NSW's Northern Tablelands.
Australian-owned renewables company Maoneng Group plans to build a "utility-scale" 200MW lithium-ion battery project directly across the road from the Tamworth Substation.
The Tamworth Battery Energy Storage System's site on Burgmann's Lane is just two kilometres from the suburb of Calala, and 6.5 kilometres from Peel Street.
Maoneng Group also plans another similar "utility scale" battery project for a site about 5 kilometres east of Armidale with 150MW of power.
The world's largest battery, the Californian Gateway Energy Storage, has 250MW of storage capacity.
It's not yet known how expensive the projects will be, but each one should be far more than $30m, according to planning documents released by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment on Saturday.
That means the projects are likely to be large enough to be considered state significant infrastructure and be approved by the NSW government.
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Planning documents show the Tamworth site was chosen due to its proximity to the Tamworth substation, and its low environmental sensitivity and lack of locational constraints. The 3.2 hectare site is currently used as a paddock and does not flood.
The Tamworth project "is expected to be a relatively low risk development compared with many renewable energy [state significant developments] due to the small footprint of the facility," planning documents said.
"The project's location in an area that has been heavily disturbed by agricultural and grazing activities, is adjacent to existing electrical infrastructure, and is distant from areas of high environmental sensitivity. The operation of the BESS will require very little handling of hazardous materials and will generate very little hazardous pollution or waste, other than the eventual removal of the lithium-ion batteries at the end of their operational life."
About 39 residents live within a kilometre of the project site, none of them objecting to the project so far.
RE-Alliance National Director Andrew Bray said the project would be much larger than the Hornsdale Tesla Battery, which was the world's largest when finished in 2017.
"This one is part of a flood of new battery projects because there's a real need for grid stability services at the moment," he said.
"That's the main thing they'll target in the first instance.
"These projects are really important for the stability of the grid. Batteries can respond to the services of the grid in literally milliseconds where traditional thermal generators take critical minutes, or even in the case of coal, hours, to get up to speed. You need this fast response from batteries."
Batteries are a crucial element in NSW's planned transition to a green power grid, because they allow intermittent wind and solar power to store energy during peak production and transmit it when demand is high. Even a medium-scale battery can be crucial in maintaining grid stability, well beyond its apparent energy capacity.
The big battery would employ about 150 people to build, but only about one job would remain once finished.
The Tamworth Substation is in the middle of a multi-million dollar upgrade, part of a $217 million upgrade of the Queensland-NSW Interconnector.