Friday 24 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 26): Tenaga Nasional Bhd will kick-start a 400 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage system (BESS) pilot project in this quarter, marking Malaysia’s first utility-scale battery storage project to address intermittency issues of renewable energy (RE).

The pilot project will be executed by the national utility outfit, operated by Grid System Operator (GSO), and overseen by the Energy Commission, according to the Ministry of Energy Transition and Public Utilities.

“The execution of the pilot BESS project will support the nation’s energy transition aspiration through the strengthening of the electricity supply grid network,” the ministry said in a statement in conjunction with the International Day of Clean Energy.

Battery storage is seen as an expensive but necessary new component of the electricity supply infrastructure, as more of power suppliers and consumers opt for renewable energy (RE) such as solar.

The intermittent nature of solar energy, which is only available when the conditions are right, requires battery storage to ensure firm supply of electricity at times when the sun does not shine.

Similar intermittency challenges also affect other RE generation such as hydro and biogas.

Efforts by the government to introduce battery storage in recent solar projects, such as under the Corporate Green Power Programme (CGPP), have not seen active take-up by developers or offtakers, due to high cost of batteries. It is estimated that a solar project with battery storage could double the tariffs imposed by the project developer to ensure the project is financially viable.

Amid the ongoing push by the government to accelerate RE adoption and concerns around how to fund the costly battery storage installations, questions have been raised over who will undertake and own these infrastructure moving forward — a new component not seen before in the electricity supply ecosystem.

In a recent interview with The Edge, outgoing TNB president and CEO Datuk Seri Baharin Din said “initial calculations estimate that for 1GW of solar, you require about 500MW of battery storage to be paired with it”.

Other countries are similarly seeing BESS installations in recent months, including 40MW in the Philippines at several geothermal sites; a 150MW/300MWh BESS in Texas, US; and a 40MWh BESS in  China accompanying a 50MW solar plant near Shannan, Tibet.

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