AGL and global energy technology company SLB have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pilot a nickel hydrogen battery – expected to be the first of its kind in Australia – at AGL’s Torrens site in Adelaide. 

As part of the MOU, SLB will supply a small (180KW / 360KWh), pilot scale nickel-hydrogen battery to AGL. The pilot is intended to commence operation in 2025 and run for up to 2 years with AGL testing the operational performance of the battery at AGL’s Torrens site, with the battery providing storage for on-site power use.  

AGL General Manager Energy Hubs, Travis Hughes, said this is an example of the new battery technologies AGL is exploring as part of its goal to add up to 5.9 GW of firming by 2035.  

“This is the first new battery technology AGL is piloting since it established an emerging battery technology team. This team is exploring the potential opportunities that the latest and emerging battery technologies can provide,” he said. 

“Nickel hydrogen batteries have been identified as a technology which may offer different benefits when compared with lithium-ion batteries such as the potential for a longer cycle life, the potential to withstand a greater temperature operating range – meaning more potential applications and reduced need for cooling – and the potential cost benefits associated with these advantages. 

“Exploring and testing innovative technologies as they are developed and bringing them to market at scale is critical as we try to accelerate our efforts to transition our business over the coming decade.”  

SLB’s Vice President of Energy Storage, Oktay Sancar said: “We are excited to embark on this pioneering journey with AGL, de-risking early-stage technology by augmenting the solutions with advanced system design, integration and deployment optimization. 

“This collaboration not only signifies our commitment to innovative energy solutions but also aligns seamlessly with Australia's vision for a sustainable future. This type of collaboration will set the stage for the next generation of utility-scale applications.” 

If the potential benefits of the nickel hydrogen battery are verified during the pilot, the next step for AGL could be to explore the development of a grid-scale project using the same technology.  

This announcement follows the opening of AGL’s 250 MW / 250 MWh grid-scale battery at Torrens in August 2023 which will provide enough electricity to power approximately 75,000 South Australian homes for one hour. 

As part of AGL’s Climate Transition Action Plan, AGL aims to add ~12 GW of generation and firming by the end of 2035 – comprised of ~6.3 GW of renewables and ~5.9 GW of firming.