The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced new funding for a sodium-ion battery trial at Sydney Water’s Bondi sewage pumping station, a new technology that promises to provide cheaper energy storage than traditional lithium-ion technologies.
The $10.6 million renewable energy generation system at the Bondi features 6 kW of solar panels, an energy management system and a temporary lithium-ion battery pack.
Sydney Water will use lithium-ion batteries for 12 months to test the energy management system before transitioning to sodium-ion batteries as the first batches of batteries are received from industry partners in China.
The project has been led by energy storage researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) in collaboration with Sydney Water and battery storage manufacturers in China.
Sodium-ion batteries have been developed to be comparable in performance to marketplace alternatives, as well as being cheaper, modular and expandable.
The Bondi pumping station was chosen due to the daily volume of wastewater it moves as well as proving the technology against highly intermittent and impulse-heavy loads.
The system will generate approximately 8,000 kWh of energy each year – more than the Bondi pumping station requires to power its own needs.
This pilot could be scaled up, as Sydney Water has a network of more than 780 sewage pumping stations.
On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA previously announced $2.7 million in funding for the Smart Sodium Storage Project which will develop and demonstrate sodium-ion batteries in renewable energy storage applications.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Part of ARENA’s role is to deliver secure and reliable electricity and battery technology will play a major role in allowing variable renewable energy to be dispatchable.”
“Thanks to the contribution of world-leading researchers from the University of Wollongong, these relatively inexpensive and reliable sodium-ion batteries aren’t too far off, potentially reducing our reliance on lithium.
“We’re always excited to support significant R&D which shows promising commercialisation prospects as the novel sodium-ion technology will assist in the faster uptake of renewable and innovative storage solutions for Australia,” Mr Miller said.