Founder-led GMR Energy enters deal for $330m Mornington Peninsula battery storage project

Founder-led GMR Energy enters deal for $330m Mornington Peninsula battery storage project

GMR Energy founder Morris Zhou (left) with AusNet’s chief development officer Jon D’Sylva.

Founder-led renewables company GMR Energy has entered an early works agreement with Victorian electricity transmission provider AusNet for its planned $330 million Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on the Mornington Peninsula.

Formerly known as Maoneng, GMR received development approval late last year for its proposed BESS project that will sit next to AusNet’s existing Tyabb substation, drawing and storing energy from the grid during off-peak periods and releasing it when demand is high.

GMR expects that once completed by the end of 2024, the utility-scale 480MWh facility will be able to power an equivalent of 40,000 homes.

The company is also in final negotiations with an engineering, procurement, and construction contractor to build out the project, with funding to come from a mixture of debt and equity.

Morris Zhou, GMR's CEO and managing director who founded the group in 2010, said the early works agreement was a key milestone towards delivering critical energy that would support the Victorian Government's goal of improving the reliability of regional electricity in an area that is particularly exposed to fluctuations in demand.

"The addition of the Mornington BESS, located adjacent to AusNet’s existing Tyabb substation, will also help ensure a successful transition to renewables, as it will draw and store energy from the grid during off-peak periods and dispatch energy to the grid during peak periods, generating power for the equivalent of 40,000 average Australian homes," Zhou said.

"With the current supply chain issues meaning a significant bottleneck in the availability of transformers and other materials required, we have partnered with AusNet to commence early works and procure long-lead items."

The company's name GMR stands for Gaw Maoneng Renewables, following a majority investment from Gaw Capital in October 2022 to fast-track six major projects in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, with an estimated combined capital expenditure of more than $2 billion to create a total of 1.9GW in battery storage and solar power generation.

The AusNet deal for the Mornington Peninsula project represents the first major breakthrough since then. A Gould Creek BESS project in South Australia also had a development application (DA) approved last year, while DAs have been submitted for three more similar projects in NSW.

In addition, the group is planning the Merriwa Energy Hub in NSW, encompassing both battery storage and solar generation in one of the few remaining large-scale sites in the state fit for purpose.

AusNet was an ASX-listed company until it passed into the hands of a group led by Canada's Brookfield Corporation in conjunction with Australian and Canadian superannuation and pension funds.

AusNet’s chief development officer Jon D’Sylva said the company was pleased to partner with GMR Energy to support the on-time delivery of this important piece of clean energy infrastructure.

"Mornington BESS is an exciting renewable energy project that will help provide additional energy security to the Victorian region,” D’Sylva said.

"Already, our team has commenced applying our transmission and asset management expertise to undertake the procurement of critical electrical equipment, conduct geotechnical investigations, and develop detailed design."

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