South Australia Backs Battery Vision in $550m Energy Plan


A $550m plan to improve energy security in South Australia that includes provisions for the country’s largest battery storage facility was unveiled yesterday by the state government’s Premier, Jay Weatherill.

The six-point plan – dubbed South Australian Power for South Australians – is aimed at delivering “reliable, affordable and clean power” for the region by ensuring more of its power is sourced, generated and controlled within the state, Weatherill said.

He also argued the moves would increase security, boost competition and put downward pressure on energy prices in South Australia, which has been beset by power outages in recent years.

The blackouts have prompted attacks from critics of renewable energy who have argued they are the result of the state’s reliance on wind energy. But advocates of renewables have argued the issues with South Australia’s grid reliability has little to do with wind energy and is more the result of grid management issues and problems with the state’s energy market design.

The new plan seeks to tackle these problems through a range of policy reforms and technology investments.

As well as building Australia’s largest battery to store solar and wind energy and launching a new $150m Renewable Technology fund to support the roll out of clean power, the plan focuses on boosting gas power generation capacity and empowering the government to intervene more directly in the energy market.

“Our State has built its reputation on clean, green environment and this plan recognises that clean energy is our future,” said Weatherill. “South Australia will now lead our nation’s transformation to the next generation of renewable storage technologies and create an international reputation for high-tech industries.”

The six-point plan pledges:
To build Australia’s largest grid-connected battery to store clean energy, funded by a new $150m Renewable Technology Fund.
To build a $360m state-owned 250MW gas-fired power plant to provide emergency back-up power and system stability services for South Australians.
Introduce new ministerial powers to “direct the market to operate in the interests of South Australians”.
Incentivise increased gas production to boost the amount of gas sourced and used in South Australia.
Introduce an Energy Security Target to ensure greater use of clean, secure energy generated in South Australia.
Use the state’s purchasing power through its own electricity contract to attract a new power generator to increase competition in the market.

Blackouts in South Australia such as the state-wide outage last October last week prompted EV and battery giant Tesla to offer to install 100MW of battery storage in the region, with the firm’s CEO Elon Musk claiming it would deploy the project for free if the work was not completed within 100 days.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the new plan would create at least 630 new jobs and help put control of the energy system “back in South Australian hands”.

“We can’t rely on this broken national market any longer,” said Koutsantonis. “Our plan will deliver increased local generation and powers to help prevent outages and more competition to put downward pressure on power prices for families and businesses.”