The green energy state of South Australia is shifting its focus from renewable energy production to energy storage to address intermittency issues across its electricity system.
The South Australian Government has launched a $50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund to support construction of new energy storage projects in South Australia.
It has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Government agency the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), with a view to coordinating the assessment of projects that may be eligible for joint funding under ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program (ARP).
South Australia leads the nation in the uptake of wind energy and rooftop solar with renewable sources accounting for more than 50 per cent of the electricity generated in the state.
However, the closure of two coal-fired power stations in recent years has forced up prices and increased South Australia’s reliance on energy supplies from the eastern Australian states, particularly in times of peak demand.
This led to the South Australian Government flying in Tesla’s Elon Musk last year to build the world's largest lithium-ion battery (100MW/129MWh) at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in the state’s Mid North.
The battery, which was connected almost a year ago, has played a significant role in stabilising supply during periods of peak demand.
It has also inspired plans for a number of other grid-scale storage projects across the state that will now potentially be able to access grants from the Grid Scale Storage Fund.
South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the fund was technology neutral and would suit proposals utilising pumped hydro energy storage, hydrogen and natural gas storage, bioenergy, solar thermal and battery storage.
“Eligible projects must benefit the state by addressing the challenges that have driven up electricity prices in South Australia,” he said.
“For example, projects could boost the reliability of our network during peak periods or increase the security of supply at the fringe of our grid.
“The fund will leverage South Australia’s world-class renewable energy assets, as well as the engineering and technology expertise within our business and investment community.”
South Australia is also emerging as a hub for the manufacture of household battery and energy storage systems.
German company Sonnen – the world’s largest producer of household battery storage systems has moved it Australian headquarters to Adelaide to be part of South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme.
Sonnen will manufacture 50,000 systems over five years to create a ‘virtual power plant’ for the state to further stabilise electricity supply and reduce prices.
This week Canadian energy storage firm Eguana Technologies announced it would assemble and manufacture its cutting-edge Evolve home energy storage system in collaboration with its partner LG in Adelaide.
Chinese battery manufacturer Alpha-ESS has also committed to manufacturing and assembling batteries in the state’s capital Adelaide.
The $100 million Home Battery Scheme gives 40,000 South Australian households access to up to $6000 of subsidies and low-interest loans to pay for the installation of home batteries and solar.
Chief Technology Officer at Eguana Technologies Brent Harris said the Evolve product was designed to support sophisticated programs that went beyond basic backup power and consumption reduction.
“Today’s announcement confirms South Australia is a world leader in the utilisation of solar and battery technology,” he said.
“We have already begun establishing our manufacturing capabilities in South Australia and look forward to providing choice to South Australian energy storage customers.”