The state's Liberal government is offering $50 million in taxpayer funds through its Grid Scale Storage Fund
as it looks to expand its energy storage options, which have so far focused on the highly successful Tesla big battery at Hornsdale (owned and operated by Neoen), and the newly completed Dalrymple North battery on the Yorke Peninsula, and some household schemes,
The fund was formally launched in November and applications for projects ranging from big batteries, to pumped hydro, solar thermal, hydrogen and other forms of storage were due last Thursday. Proposals must be for ready-to-build projects, and there will be no funding for feasibility studies.
Energy and mining minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says more than 50 applications were received, including from leading overseas developers.
The storage proposals will be able to meet a range of different needs, including meeting peak demand and providing grid security and stability. The government says storage will make electricity more affordable, and boost reliability and security. It is expected to largely displace gas generation that the state currently relies on.
'The number of proposals and calibre of applicants highlights the gilt-edged opportunity to capitalise on SA's abundant wind, solar and other renewable energy sources,' he said in a statement emailed to RenewEconomy.
'The Marshall Government's Grid Scale Storage Fund has succeeded in attracting energy pioneers from around the globe to continue the transformation of South Australia's electricity network to a low cost, high reliability, low emission system.
'Grid scale storage is required so abundant renewable energy when it's sunny or windy can be retained and then despatched to meet consumers' needs.'
The grid-scale storage program is separate to the various schemes that are supporting household battery storage in the state. The government's own Home Battery Scheme aims to install 40,000 batteries across the state and had installed more than 100, and received applications from another 500, by mid January.
That scheme has attracted interest from a variety of battery storage manufacturers who have established manufacturing operations in the state, including Sonnen,
and Chinese battery developer Alpha-ESS and Canada's Eguana Technologies.
Tesla is also working on a giant “virtual power plant” that aims to have 50,000 homes with solar and storage linked. The first two stages aim to install 1,100 while the final stage is still subject to finance and a retail partner. AGL is also completing a separate scheme with 1,000 homes linked with solar and storage.
The state Liberal government's embrace of storage, particularly after the overwhelming success of the Tesla big battery, which has saved money, enhanced grid security, and delivered new options because of its speed, accuracy and versatility, is in direct contrast to the federal Coalition.
The government, from the prime minister Scott Morrison down, has been un-relenting in its criticism of battery storage, describing the Tesla big battery it as useless and too small, even though it has kept the lights on in the state on more than one occasion a
nd has consistently reduced costs.
Craig Kelly, the head of the Coalition's energy committee, took the criticism to a new absurd level on Facebook last month,
describing the Tesla installation as the “great battery con job”.
Applicants to South Australia's storage fund may also be able to dip into Australian Renewable Energy Agency funds.
ARENA has backed the Dalrymple North battery, and has also provided support for the 25MW/52MWh big battery being built at Infigen Energy's Lake Bonney wind farm, and a variety of smaller hydrogen and distributed storage projects.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy
, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid
and founder/editor of The Driven
. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.