SA energy plan: Australia's largest battery, return of the state-owned power plant

By Harley Dennett

March 14, 2017

BREAKING: The South Australian government has announced a new energy plan to stabilise supply — by building a battery, going it alone, ditching reliance on the national energy market operator, and the return of state-owned power plants.

Aiming to give the state greater local control of its energy security, the government will incentivising local exploration for more gas supplies to feed new generation, and funding projects to make renewable energy available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to power the state when it is needed.

The state will explore next-generation renewable storage technology. $150 million will go towards the project, initially with a grid-connected battery with a capacity of 100 megawatts — the largest in Australia. Elon Musk put up his hand, via Twitter, but the government hasn’t ruled anyone in or out.

Other large-scale projects under consideration in South Australia include solar thermal, biomass, hydrogen energy and pumped hydro.

New market powers, and a plant

Concerned by the Australian Energy Market Operator’s “reckless” disregard for the risk of blackouts in South Australia, the state will give new powers to its energy minister to intervene in the market, Premier Jay Weatherill announced Tuesday.

The national electricity market is not only failing South Australia, it’s failing the nation, Weatherill told reporters.

This is about our energy future, Weatherill said in announcing a new gas-powered plant. “This is classically a role for government.”

Wind power alone doesn’t provide sufficient inertia, the Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told the media conference, so gas will provide the stability in the interim. That plant will be within the minister’s control when required, and have additional use supporting inertia of wind-generated power.

Koutsantonis added that existing providers had not provided the certainty the government needed, either in supply or in price.

The plan is expected to create 650 new jobs in the state.

More to come…

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