QUT researchers deploy Australia’s first sodium-sulfur battery

QUT researchers as part of the National Battery Testing Centre (NBTC) project have deployed Australia’s first large-scale sodium-sulfur battery (NaS battery) at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site, southeast of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

The NaS battery energy storage system (BESS) is a scalable modular base unit of 250 kW/1.45 MWh designed to be installed at gigawatt scale. Suited for large-scale energy storage applications of six hours or more, the NaS BESS is capable of functioning in extreme heat conditions without the need for air conditioning.

Led by BASF and IGO as part of their investment in the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre’s (FBICRC) NBTC which is operated by QUT, the deployment of the demonstration unit in the Australian market will provide long-duration storage.

NaS batteries are distributed by BASF Stationary Energy Storage GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the German chemical company BASF SE.

NBTC QUT Project Lead, Dr Joshua Watts said: “Deploying and testing the first NaS battery in Australia is a significant milestone with the potential to enable further uptake of these systems domestically. The NaS BESS has the potential to play an important role in Australia’s clean energy transition by enabling stable and on-demand power from our intermittent renewable energy generation sources.”

FBICRC Chief Executive Officer Shannon O’Rourke welcomed the development.

“These field deployments help build market confidence, train our workforce and build capability in the contracting community. The NaS battery technology is commercially mature and has been successfully installed and operated at over 250 sites worldwide over the past 20 years,” Mr O’Rourke said.

ustralia’s first large-scale sodium-sulfur battery (NaS battery) at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site.
Australia’s first large-scale sodium-sulfur battery (NaS battery) at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site.

BASF’s Australian engineering, procurement and construction partner, Allset Energy, was the lead contractor responsible for the design, construction and commissioning at IGO’s Nova mine site.

Allset Energy’s Managing Director, Thomas Buschkuehl, said the NaS battery offered a unique solution that supported 24/7 carbon neutral operations for large commercial, industrial and utility scale applications.

“As Australia pursues its renewable energy targets, this long-duration energy storage solution enables a higher penetration of renewables while stabilising the electricity grid,” Mr Buschkuehl said.

The NaS BESS, which has been in operation since mid-February, was deployed and commissioned by Allset Energy’s specialist team in only 15 days.

The NBTC team, BASF and Allset Energy, will remotely monitor the performance of the NaS battery. University of Western Australia will use performance data to model the battery to better understand the NaS BESS and how it can be best utilised within Australian power infrastructure.

“These kinds of demonstrator projects are key to enabling a diverse range of energy storage technologies within Australia. QUT and the NBTC are pushing forward with many more collaborative projects in this space to accelerate Australia’s clean energy transition,” Dr Watts said.

The FBICRC’s National Battery Testing Centre, operated by QUT at their Banyo Pilot Plant facility on Brisbane’s northside, is funded as part of the Commonwealth Government’s CRC grant program, and is the first facility of its kind in Australia. It is one example of QUT’s nation leading efforts in accelerating new energy storage solutions in support of Australia’s decarbonisation efforts.


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