Bendigo to be battery-powered by summer

Action plan: Former US vice-president Al Gore and Victorian Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio talk battery storage and green energy in Melbourne. Picture: AAP
Action plan: Former US vice-president Al Gore and Victorian Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio talk battery storage and green energy in Melbourne. Picture: AAP

New battery storages that can deliver four hours of power to two regional Victorian towns of 100,000 people, and a solar farm that would power more than 400 trams are key projects in Victoria's new plan to increase renewable energy supply and reduce reliance on burning coal.

The battery will be up and running by this summer, the state government says, and will provide at least 40 megawatts of power in western Victoria, where the electricity network is relatively weak, boosting reliability in towns including Bendigo, Horsham, Ararat, Red Cliffs and Kerang.

Proposals that Bendigo or Ballarat lose electricity during a record-breaking east coast heatwave in February to guarantee power to NSW were angrily rejected by Victoria's energy minister Lily D'Ambrosio, who told the Australian Energy Market Operator "it was absolutely not appropriate that Victoria had to pay consequences for failures in New South Wales".

Victoria's roll-out of renewable energy supply has gained extra urgency since the April closure of the Hazelwood coal-fuelled generator, which provided 20 per cent of the state's baseload power supply.

Tenders for the $25 million project are being evaluated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, and is part of a nationwide embrace of battery energy, including Tesla founder Elon Musk's commitment this month to build the world's largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia.

Grid-scale batteries can store renewable energy to be used at times of peak demand, improving energy security and shielding consumers from severe price spikes.

The Andrews government announced on Thursday its plan to spend $146 million on a series of renewable energy initiatives in a bid to meet its target of 40 per cent green energy for the state by 2025.

The renewable energy action plan, launched by former US vice-president Al Gore, will underpin the state's attempt to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It includes $48.1 million for the purchase of renewable energy certificates, much of which will go towards solar power for Melbourne's trams.

A 75MW solar farm that will power Melbourne's 410 trams is due to open in the state's north-west late next year.