Future Fraser Rise battery largest in southern hemisphere

Liam McNally with AAP

Construction has begun on one of the world’s biggest battery facilities for storing renewable energy in Fraser Rise.

Premier Jacinta Allan and State Electricity Commission (SEC) Minister Lily D’Ambrosio turned the first sod on the $1 billion Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub on Thursday, November 30.

The hub on Holden Road will comprise of three battery components totalling 600 megawatts in size, and is being developed in partnership with renewable energy investor Equis Australia.

Once complete, the hub will provide 1.6 gigawatt hours of energy storage, enough to power up to 200,000 homes during peak periods, which Ms Allan said is roughly around the size of Geelong and Ballarat combined.

It will be the largest system in the southern hemisphere and third largest in the world.

The hub is expected to be operational by 2025, when it will start storing excess rooftop solar and surplus energy from the grid, providing extra power to meet Victoria’s growing demand.

The state government is targeting 95 per cent renewable energy generation by 2035.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the hub will meet a quarter of Victoria’s target of 2.6 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2030.

Victoria’s state-owned electricity assets were privatised in the 1990s, before last year’s Victorian state election, Labor promised to bring back the SEC if it secured a third term.

It earmarked an initial investment of $1 billion towards renewable energy projects overseen by the commission to deliver 4.5 gigawatts of power to replace the state’s aging coal-fired power stations.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the commission, which received more than 100 registrations of interest for its first investment, would own 38.5 per cent of the battery project.

“We’ve made a commitment that across the entire 4.5 gigawatt portfolio… The SEC would have majority control that is 51 per cent,” she said.

“That will grow as new projects are in.”

A press release from when Labor announced the return of the SEC said “the government will own a majority in each new project”.

Opposition Leader John Pesutto said it amounted to a broken promise.

“This is not a government-owned project,” he said.