Air compressor station in factory with sunlight support industrial air for equipment in industrial plant

Construction of a $652 million fuel-free energy storage facility will use Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology, in one of the world’s largest projects of its kind.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has confirmed $45 million in conditional funding for Hydrostor’s 200/1600MWh Silver City Energy Storage Project at a disused mine in Broken Hill, New South Wales.

The $652 million project will repurpose a disused mine to facilitate the development of a subsurface air storage cavity that will be used to store compressed air.

ARENA’s funding for the Silver City Energy Storage Project, is conditional upon the project reaching financial close, which is expected to occur in late 2023.

The project has received support from Transgrid, which earlier this year announced Hydrostor’s A-CAES technology as the preferred solution in the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) to provide backup power supply for the city of Broken Hill. The project will reserve at least 250MWh of storage for this backup power service.

Hydrostor’s A-CAES technology provides an alternative to Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) for bulk energy storage, having a comparable price point and additional benefits including providing more flexible site selection, shorter development and construction times, and a lower environmental impact.

The flexible site selection allows Hydrostor’s A-CAES technology to target specific problems and capture new value streams, including fringe-of-grid applications such as at Broken Hill, Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), and off-grid applications.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said new technologies for medium duration storage will help to improve the economics of energy storage and give Australia a range of options for our future energy storage needs.

“Whether it be through pumped hydro, or innovative solutions like compressed air storage, medium and long duration storage is going to be vital to supplying power during the evening and morning peak-demand periods as Australia looks towards achieving 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” Mr Miller said.

“Hydrostor’s innovative solution provides us with another option to add to the mix. As a fuel-free storage technology, compressed air storage technology has similar applications to pumped hydro, such as providing dispatchability required to ensure reliability of the power system as more solar and wind power is installed.

“In Australia’s regional towns at the fringe of the grid such as Broken Hill, new large-scale storage technologies can provide backup power to communities that will improve the reliability of electricity supply. Having more grid-scale storage will also support more solar and wind in regional areas.”

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