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S.A. wants first round battery storage offers within two weeks

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The South Australia government has pressed the fast-forward button on its 100MW battery storage tender, announcing that expressions of interest for the country’s biggest battery storage installation are now open, and will close within two weeks.

The EOI process will be critical in informing the government what might be available and on offer, and on sharpening the terms – such as the number of hours of storage for a given capacity – in its formal tender.

“The battery must have a capacity of approximately 100MW and be operational in time for this summer,” the government said in its announcement.

Later however, premier Jay Weatherill said the government may accept multiple bids, and three sets of 50MW battery systems could be installed.

“There could theoretically be three separate winners, or there indeed could be one winner,” Mr Weatherhill said. “The criteria that we’ll be looking at to consider this is, of course, its technical capacity; second, to get it in place by summer. We want it here as soon as possible.”

“We said our plan to take charge of South Australia’s energy future starts now, and we mean it,” Weatherill said in the earlier statement.

“Over the next fortnight, we’ll test the market to hear what national and international companies have to offer. Building Australia’s largest grid-scale battery will help build our reputation for high-tech industries.”

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The project, which will be financed by the newly-created $150 million Renewable Technology Fund is likely to be contested by a host of local and international players. Weatherill said on radio there had been significant interest, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Previously, the likes of Tesla, Adelaide-based ZEN Energy, Lyon Solar, and Carnegie, confirmed their interest, and they have been joined by Korea’s LG Chem, and another two Australian companies VSun Energy (see pic above) and Ecoult.

Tesla, LG Chem, Zen, and Lyon are focused on variations of lithium technologies, but Ecoult is a CSIRO spin-off that has its own “ultra” super batteries based on lead-based technologies.

Carnegie is teaming up with Sumitomo for vanadium redox flow batteries while Perth-based VSun, a subsidiary of Australian Vanadium, is also using vanadium redox flow batteries, produced by Garmany’s Gildemeister, such as those installed in a farm in Busselton, WA.

The vanadium redox batteries were actually invented by an Australian – with the first successful demonstration made by Maria Skyllas-Kazacos at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s.

The South Australian government says the grid-connected battery will play an arbitrage role, storing renewable energy from the wind and the sun and selling the power at higher prices during peak demand.

It says it will increase competition, put downward pressure on prices, and play a role in providing system security, particularly in critical peaks when it will be instructed to provide back-up services.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the battery storage tender would begin the transformation to the next generation of renewable energy technologies.

“Introducing grid-scale batteries mean renewable energy can be stored 24 hours, 7 days a week,” he said. “If the wind is blowing in the middle of the night, we can use that power when people wake up.

“The State Government is setting ambitious timeframes to build Australia’s largest grid-scale battery, but we believe these timeframes are achievable.”

The Renewable Technology Fund will provide a total $75 million in grants and $75 million in loans but only around $20 million is expected to be needed for its first auction.

It will later focus on other technologies such as solar thermal, biomass, hydrogen and pumped hydro.

  

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  • Brunel

    In Chile, Dubai, India, they had solar power auctions saying “how cheaply will you supply electrons to the grid”. Thus the price of solar power kept going down.

    With storage, SA should ask “how cheaply can you store electrons”.

  • Craig Allen

    I fear that by setting such a short deadline they will drive up the cost. How can companies nail down partners, logistics, and land purchases, plus deal with energy market rule complexities in such a screaming hurry. Doing it like this will exclude bidders who have not already been working on developing projects in the state. (Or perhaps that is the point?) Others will have to include a hefty risk premium to account for unforeseen eventualities, and will be taking a punt in the knowledge that they may have to pull out if they hit roadblocks.

    Politicians and government departments take forever to do anything and then expect everyone to run around with their hair on fire trying to meet crazy deadlines. That is a key cause of poor policy outcomes.

    • It’s an EOI. you wouldn’t need to lock in all that at this stage. just tell them what you go and what you reckon it could do.

      • gary

        good question on the mW or mWh. big difference

    • humanitarian solar

      Your the guy who argued against me a year ago for highlighting ARENA’s “tranche” of PV overlooked storage and hence were setting renewable energy up for attacks on their intermittency. Those political problems plagued the renewables field and set renewables back. You claimed renewables were not a high enough penetration to warrant storage inclusion. You were exceedingly shortsighted as were ARENA. The chief issue has always been demonstrating proof of concept with a complete integrated system. That means distributed generation and storage.

  • humanitarian solar

    The Victorian approach of integrating storage in smaller 20MW facilities, around the country, in a more distributed configuration, is the more sound approach. There’s no reason to place all the eggs in the one basket and go with one manufacturer. Having 5 x 20MW storage facilities situated in problem spots on the grid, would be faster to implement by having all those manufacturers getting their labor force into it immediately and concurrently. It would provide far superior grid reliability by locating the storage throughout the grid where its needed.

    • Mike Shackleton

      It’s probably also because regional towns with limited connectivity to the grid tend to be on the receiving end of load shedding more than larger centres. Pair these smaller units with a town.

      • humanitarian solar

        Yes perhaps SA needs a bigger chunk of storage in Adelaide to create a clock for all the other synchronous generation to be timed off, then add smaller nodes of storage in each region, beginning with the most vulnerable ones like Eyre Peninsula if it regularly gets effected by vulnerable runs of poles and wires.

  • Roger Brown

    No Redflow ?

  • John Norris

    >> The South Australia government has pressed the fast-forward button on its 100MW battery storage tender <<

    100 MW or 100 MWh? Tesla's recent 80 MWh (capacity) installation was 20 MW (power), ie 4 hours x 20 MW.

  • Rob

    Imagine if Australia’s largest battery, soon to be installed in South Australia, was an Australian invention ( as mentioned in the this article ), using materials sourced locally, designed, engineered, produced, supplied and installed by an Australian company and run and maintained by Australian workers. That also brought efficiency, economy and reliability to the South Australian grid at the same as it reduced reliance on fossil fuel energy generation thereby reducing emissions of damaging greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, helping to limit ( admittedly in a small way, but every bit counts ) the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. While also generally reducing air pollution and damage to the environment. That might just give my spirits a lift!