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Neoen lines up government funding for big battery in Australia

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - France's Neoen has won A$160 million ($128 million) in cheap finance from the Australian government to help fund what will be one of the world's biggest batteries, which it said is on track to be up and running later this year.

The energy storage project, dubbed the Victorian Big Battery, will be able to produce 450 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, more than double the capacity of Australia's first utility scale battery, also run by Neoen.

Neoen has not disclosed the total cost of the project.

The government's Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) decided to provide debt for the project to help the country's push toward cleaner, more reliable and cheaper electricity.

"This project is a world-class example of how utility scale batteries can help electricity networks support a higher penetration of renewable energy," CEFC Chief Executive Ian Learmonth said in a statement.

As previously announced, Tesla Inc will be providing its Megapack technology for the project.

"With the help and hard work of our partners, Tesla and AusNet Services, we are on track to deliver this project before the next Australian summer," Neoen Australia Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said in a statement.

Neoen secured financing for the project just three months after winning a Victorian state tender to supply up to 250 MW of capacity. The battery will help prevent blackouts in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, during summer months.

($1 = 1.2544 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)