News Vic Big Battery fire clouds planned start

Vic Big Battery fire clouds planned start

The Big Battery fire took four days to bring under control. Photo: AAP
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Victoria’s energy minister says it’s too early to say if a fire at the state’s $84 million Big Battery will delay the project’s scheduled start date.

One of the Tesla megapack batteries at the site in Moorabool, near Geelong, caught fire during testing on Friday before spreading to another battery.

It took firefighters four days to bring the blaze under control, with investigations now underway by multiple agencies, including Energy Safe Victoria, WorkSafe, police and firefighters.

Owned and operated by French renewable energy giant Neoen, it was scheduled to begin operating in November, ahead of the summer peak demand period.

“I can’t say to you now whether that date will no longer be able to be met, it’s just too early to say,” Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“But I do want to assure every Victorian that we have more than sufficient energy to meet our needs.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said she was confident investigators would find out what went wrong.

“We can’t pre-empt what the solutions are, or what the responses can be until we actually know what the cause of the fire was,” she said.

“I’m very confident that we’ll get to the bottom of that and then we can take any action to ensure these things don’t happen again.”

Once completed, the Victorian Big Battery project will have a capacity of 300 megawatts and 450 megawatt-hours – more than double the size of billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla big battery built in South Australia in 2017.

It is also a key component of the Victorian government’s plan to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the fire did not make her doubt the technology, noting the government was operating other large-scale batteries in Ballarat, Bulgana and Gannawarra.

“They have been, for some time, supporting Victoria’s energy security and supply system and they’ve been working very well and they continue to,” she said.