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SA seeks bids for 100MW battery plant to kick off storage boom

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The South Australian government has announced plans to install the country’s biggest battery storage installation as part of a sweeping response to the series of blackouts and what it says are the failures of the National Electricity Market.

The $500 million scheme includes plans for a new battery storage installation of at least 100MW, a new 250MW government-owned gas-fired generator to act as an emergency back-up, and a new “energy security” scheme that could encourage solar thermal and other storage technologies.

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The state will also introduce a new competitor to the market through its previously announced government procurement scheme, will encourage more gas exploration, and will give treasurer and energy minister Tom Koutsantonis greater power to intervene in the market and instruct generators to deliver supplies.

The idea, premier Jay Weatherill said, is for the state to take control of its own energy future, and not rely on a “broken” National Energy Market, and to forge ahead with its push into renewable energy.

The biggest news, though, is the tender for a new battery storage plant. It comes on the same day that Victoria announced its own plans for 100MW of battery storage and less than a week after Tesla’s Elon Musk promised he could build a 100MW plant in South Australia within 100 days, or deliver it for free.

That promise, in response to a tweeted question from Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, sparked huge political and media interest, as well as a host of proposals from local and other international players.

Those players  will now have the chance to bid against each other in the tender, which South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis says will be held as soon as possible to ensure the installation is completed by next summer.

Koutsantonis said it was a “happy coincidence” that this tender came just days after the tweets, but he will have a ready-made line-up of candidates.

Among those competing will be Tesla, Zen Energy (with Greensmith), Lyon Solar (with AES) and Perth-based Carnegie Clean Energy. Others are also expected to join.

“I expect you will see lots of applications,” Koutsantonis said.

The new installation will be funded through a new $150 million South Australia Renewable Energy Technology Fund, although he estimated that only around $15-$20 million will be needed for a plant, with the rest saved for later auctions and initiatives. Victoria is allocating a similar amount.

“This will provide an incentive for more forms of storage,” Koutsantonis says. “Storage is the next phase of the evolution of renewable energy.”

He said the fund would split evenly between grants and loans, and will effectively duplicate the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“In the space of five weeks we have gone from ridicule …  to a celebration of South Australia as potentially being the international leader in renewable energy policy,” Weatherill told journalists.

“We have taken on significant challenges and come up with the solutions.”

In its most controversial announcement – and one many will see as un-necessary but a political back-stop  -South Australia will also spend $360 million building a new 250MW gas-fired generator, which it also hopes to have in place by next summer, although it admits the time-frame will be tight. Diesel generators will be installed in the meantime.

It will act not as a competitor in the market, but as an “emergency back-up,” to ensure that the rolling blackouts such as occurred on February 8, when “load shedding” was imposed by the market operator, are not repeated

“We have a system that puts profits before people,”Weatherill told reporters. “It is a disgrace. They chose to black out south Australia instead of turning on a power station.”

Weatherill said the market was broken, and accused existing players of using their market power to extract benefits for themselves.

The government hopes to shake that oligopoly by introducing a new generator through its previously announced procurement scheme to provide 75 per cent of the government’s energy needs.

The shortlist for this tender, Koutsantonis said, includes only new generators. He would not reveal the number but it is thought they would include the 110MW solar tower and molten salt storage plant in Port Augusta proposed by SolarReserve.

Another major new initiative is an “energy security target” which will require energy retailers in the state to source 36 per cent of their energy from “synchronous generation”, which could include gas-fired generation and solar thermal, and battery storage attached to wind and solar plants.

This target will rise to 50 per cent by 2025 – and will be implemented through a credit scheme similar to the proposed emissions intensity target. Indeed, it has been designed by the same man, Frontier Economics’ head Danny Price.

The government will also double grants available to gas explorers to $48 million, including a 10 per cent royalty share for landholders as an incentive to allow exploration on their land.

But most energy analysts do not expect this to increase gas availability, because of the long lead-times and the falling cost of renewables and storage.

Indeed, the decision by Santos to work with ZEN Energy to build a new solar farm, rather than drill for more gas, in order to free up gas reserves, suggests that gas exploration is already out of the money.

See more stories on this topic:

South Australia covers its arse and its FCAS in new energy plan

Did AEMO allow the grid to fail? It’s an open question, says minister

Victoria seeks 100MW battery storage in $20 million tender

Garnaut’s ZEN Energy plans “baseload renewable” retail market offer  

RenewEconomy Free Daily Newsletter

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  • David leitch

    I’ll bet against a new 250 MW Generator being ready to run next summer unless it’s already under construction.

    • trackdaze

      Maybe one a third of the size.

    • Rod

      We already have 3 x 50MW sitting idle at Dry Creek.
      I know you can see the $100 dollar notes flying out the stack when it is fired up but if it is only back up a new gas peaker doesn’t make sense to me.

      • hydrophilia

        Yep, buy it or lease it…

  • David leitch

    And how many hours for the battery? 2 or 4?

    • they haven’t said. tender documents may reveal.

      • John Boyd

        That’s the problem…the energy for gas is stored in the supply line, presumably unlimited. Battery energy is stored in the battery, and is very expensive in terms of cost per MWh.

        • Allan Barr

          With sharp drop in renewables and batteries its actually now cheaper to go that route.

    • frostyoz

      If it’s for immediate grid frequency stabilisation, the U.K. standard is 9 seconds.

  • CaresAboutHealth

    Does anyone know if the SA Govt considered buying Pelican Point, or paying to keep it on standby instead of building a new gas plant?

    • Kevfromspace

      They considered it, and scrapped the idea.

    • Joe

      Yes, Pelican Point was considered but it is not fit for purpose. What they really ought to do is get into Bio Gas instead of conventional gas. Hook up a Bio Gas plant to sewage treatment works and you have the energy supply right where the big urban populations are and most of the electrical infrastructure.

  • Kevfromspace

    The $360m 250MW Gas generator is a bad idea. It’s going to be a stranded asset in no time. What a waste of money!

    • Pete

      I think it’s a great idea. Build it OCGT, when Torrens Island A closes upgrade it to CCGT, then the government becomes a major competitor in the market and produces much lower CO2 per MWh compared to TIa. The energy security target also weans the state off Vic brown coal over time.

      • Andrew Woodroffe

        um, how much PV solar with $360 million buy these days? 200MW? At peak, probably about only half that (assuming single axis tracking) but will also generate around 400GWh/year, the gas turbine 1GWh/year . . . or maybe 2 . . . or maybe not run at all. Just saying.

        As for getting it installed by next summer, very hard to imagine.

        If it really is about peak emergency back ups, just bang in 2nd hand diesel gensets. It is not like they are actually going to run!

        • Peter F

          If those gensets could be converted to run on gas they would also be cheaper to run than an OC gas plant

          • Andrew Woodroffe

            Since these things rarely run, and when/if they do, it is for a short period of time, running costs are not important, capital costs are everything. We talking very few operation hours here.

            Know that the Austrians keep an ancient old fired power station near Vienna operational for the rare times the Bavarians need extra support.

          • Peter F

            The cost as you say is minor but gas supply constraints aren’t so a plant that uses less gas particularly in spinning reserve mode is far less affected by gas supply constraints.

          • stalga

            Diesel combusts under compression, gas and petrol need spark. I’ve heard of diesel/gas hybrid trucks, but the gas input is small. However, there are buses that run on LNG.

        • juxx0r

          $360MW, unless you’re going for government handouts

        • stalga

          There are going to buy some diesel generators.

    • ozmq

      Good politics but. It says “we’ll look after South Australians” and simultaneously says to the private generators “serve South Australia, not profits, or we’ll put you out of business”. They may end up not having to build it at all. Maybe.

      • solarguy

        If the going to have it ready for next summer, they need to start very very soon.

    • Tom

      They could take Tassie’s Tamar Valley Power Station. We’ve got a 206MW combined cycle unit and 3 X 55MW open cycle units.

      Once we get our dam levels up (I would suggest 60% full at the emptiest time of year) we won’t need it – even if Basslink does go down for a year or two and there is a relative drought.

      • Peter F

        I think you costs are optimistic but I think that keeping them as an insurance policy is not a bad thing. I understand they were being run over summer, partly to give the dams a chance to rebuild.

        However if Tasmania had build 300MW of wind a couple of years before their drought and used that to extend the hydro reserves they could also have sailed through the drought

        • Tom

          If they’d built 300MW a couple of years before the drought then exactly the same thing would have happened because all that Hydro would have done is generate more electricity and sell more through Basslink to have more cash in their hands.

          300MW of wind would produce an average of 120MW continuous, and given our long-term average consumption is about 1200MW, that wouldn’t have saved us.

          Despite Tamar Valley running continuously for the last few months, we have still been exporting plenty of energy through Basslink at high-price times, and importing during cheap times. In fact we’re exporting 100MW through Basslink right this instant at $110/MWh.

          I agree that further renewable generation capacity in Tas would be a bloody good thing, but only when combined with high dam levels. That’s the key to our long-term energy security. We could do that right now with Basslink, but more local generation would enable us to take advantage of more Victorian high-price periods than we do at present.

          • David Osmond

            300 MW of wind would have helped. Tassie dam levels storage levels were at around 3587 GWh when Basslink failed. By Apr 25 the next year they had almost halved to 1844 GWh (down 49%).

            If there was an extra 300 MW of wind, producing on average 120 MW, then the dam levels would have fallen to 2210 GWh by Anzac day (ie, a 38% reduction, instead of a 49% reduction)

          • Peter F

            Tom
            You may well be right because they were selling everything they could, but there would have been times when either due to demand limits in Victoria or capacity limits on Basslink where that wind would have been displacing local hydro leaving the dams in better shape.

            The gas turbines plus diesels only ran flat out for 8-10 weeks by the time the got them connected and total capacity was about 300-350MW I think, so a total of roughly 400-500 GWhr.

            300MW of wind generating 120MW as you say, for two years before the crisis would have stored/ sold 2,100 GWhr so even if 70% of it had been exported you would still have been better off.
            The wind would have generated all the time during the basslink shut down, not from just when the gas came back on line and all that power would have offset hydro/gas so even during that time it would have supplied 500GWhr+

          • Chris Fraser

            Develop that wind renewable in the Roaring Forties – then you’ll give the dams a needed break. See, a natural geographic advantage.

      • Chris Baker

        The second unit at Pelican Point is basically mothballed as I understand it. Its near enough 250MW and surely it would cost only millions to pay Engie to keep it ready to roll, and cover their gas contract costs should they need to start it up in a hurry. Keeping this unit available is surely just useful as building a new one — same capacity. And you’d probably get over $300million in change doing it this way. What am I missing?

    • Peter F

      The purpose of the gas generator is two fold. a) insurance when other plants/interconnectors genuinely can’t supply. That has to be a consideration after Hazlewood closes b) a competitive force when power prices spike.

      If a threshold was set that the generator would bid whenever the “Spark Spread” was over say $50 then the instances of power prices spiking over $300 would be vastly reduced. If more renewables storage or gas supplies came on line the power station may never be used but it could still pay for itself in reduced power prices. A $330m power station costs about $40m per year in financing maintenance etc before it ever turns on. If the threat of competition reduces average prices by $3/MWhr then the power station pays for itself, without generating a single watt of power.

      The cost of lost power has a notional value of $15,000 per MWhr and the last blackout cost an estimated $360m. If the gas station prevents that, which it would have easily, it pays for itself in a week.

      All that is not to say that it is the best solution. Andrew Woodroffes or David Mitchell’s below are both probably better and cheaper than a new gas turbine

  • Miles Harding

    Love it:
    “We have a system that puts profits before people,”
    It also puts profits before the environment.

    That’s the whole idea of capitalism – we shouldn’t be surprised.

  • trackdaze

    Good news requiring syncronous generation.

    There ought to be some incentive for existing wind and solar to install some. It is theme who are best placed to install quickly.

    • Peter F

      The old “synchronous generation” meme. It is a generally a vastly overrated trope used by coal supporters to suggest that intermittent power sources can’t provide stable power. In fact with modern controls and a small amount of storage, wind turbines and solar farms can provide far more short term response than a gas turbine of equivalent capacity

    • AllanO

      If “synchronous generation” is really just code for provision of system inertia then there are ways of providing that in addition to conventional generators – batteries, synchronous condensers, control systems on some types of wind turbine (new or possibly retrofit) etc. They will all have different cost / benefit profiles which ought to be assessed.

      One of the problems in this space is the lazy / uninformed mixing and misuse of terms like “synchronous generation”, “inertia”, “fast frequency response”, “baseload”, “backup”, “reserve”, “peaking” etc … they are all distinct forms of system services / resources, some are needed more than others, there are different ways of providing them, and the debate gets hopelessly muddled when the problem being addressed and hence the appropriate solutions are never clearly specified.

      • John Boyd

        How many contributors here actually understand what synchronous relates to? The grid grid has to operate at 50Hz. If you connect to the grid, you have to remain synchronous, in three phase. Any electrical engineering student knows what happens if you close the breaker on an alternator which is not synchronised. Bang!!

    • there will be – in the energy security target – synchronous, it would appear, can also be covered by attached battery storage, so it not limited to spinning turbines

  • solarguy

    $360 mil on gas generator that will only be used in an emergency back up scenario. But the gas will have to be procured from new sources. How much for that? And will it be from CSG or natural gas?
    Seeing it will be only used as a back up, (that’s if it will be) why not use stored biogas?
    Anyway good to see the tender go out for a battery!

    • Joe

      CSG or natural gas are both the wrong ‘gas’ sources. Bio Gas is what is needed. Our sewage treatment works produce it, just harness the stuff.

      • Brett Cooper

        Bio Gas doesn’t have the volume to supply a 250MW gas turbine, which are more like jet engines than LPG Holdens.

        • solarguy

          Yeah it can be done. 10’s of millions cm can be stored if compressed.

          • Andy Saunders

            What source material?

          • solarguy

            Sewage old mate, shit loads of it( pardon the pun) and green waste too. 1cm3 biogas / tonne of shit. Check out what your local treatment works deals with a day. It will amaze you!

      • solarguy

        Joe, did you see that I mentioned that bio gas should power it? So of course I agree.

        • Joe

          I see you see you my solarguy friend. Australia is so behind ( pun intended ) when it comes to Bio Gas. Instead we have this fetish about drilling for gas. Poo Power is an unlimited source of energy and it is a tried, tested and used overseas.
          Our Aussie poo is no different to overseas poo !!!!!!!!!

          • solarguy

            Once again I agree and you right on all counts. It will also stop a lot of methane from going into the atmosphere as well.

  • Miles Harding

    The time tunnel seems to be malfunctioning again. All we seem to get is the triassic.

    South Australia is about to make a big mistake with a gas fired generator. Has anybody else noticed that it’s the gas fired equivalent of a coal generator – the key word being ‘base load’ in the proposal description.

    I doubt it will be fit for purpose as SA builds more newables to avoid supply issues and high gas costs. This plant won’t deliver the agility needed to cope with the variations in demand expected in a renewable and storage dominated environment.

    • Peter F

      Miles there is some confusion somewhere, an aero-derivative OC gas turbine is not base load it is a peaker. It is exactly the sort of Gas turbine plant for renewables support.
      However a reciprocating plant would be a better solution. Much less likely to choke in large loads swings, more efficient at all loads but particularly part loads on hot days where it can provide the same level of support with about half to 1/3rd of the gas usage

      • Miles Harding

        Got onto the wrong reports!
        I was looking for some indication that they were going to install one of these, but only saw ‘base load’ in the proposals I managed to read! (darn internet)

        Your are correct that a single 250MW plant isn’t likely to be very efficient, but I would expect that it would be composed of a number of smaller units. (5 x 50MW?)

        Any of the modelling I have seen suggests that it is also necessary to build up renewable generation capacity to stop the gas peaker from exhausting the gas supply and sending the state broke.

        The battery (distributed?) and gas peaker suggests to me that SA is about to accelerate along the path to 85%+ renewables and be able to contain or reduce consumer power costs in the process.

  • Robert Comerford

    Sounds like 2 bob each way to me. Put in a solar thermal for backup or supply the gas from renewable sources, after all it is backup not baseload.
    We don’t need more polluting fossil fuel generators of any sort.
    Mustn’t embarrass Malcolm too much!

  • brucelee

    I have a feeling when battery tenders come in, they’ll switch the proposed gas turbine peaker to a battery peaker. Especially, if musk is still willing to offer the 50% discount.

  • Antony Day

    “includes plans for a new battery storage installation of at least 100MW”, this is sloppy , when will reporters and commentators stop quoting power when they mean capacity? This should be 100MWh

    • Er no, it’s not sloppy at all. If you had been following any storage tender around the world, they are most often measured in MW not MWh. That’s because different batteries can do different things. They want to see prices and offers, the MWh will be decided by the configuration of the winning bid.

      • Askgerbil Now

        Battery storage needs to specify both energy storage (eg MWh) and the rate of energy delivery (eg MW).

      • John Boyd

        I am afraid that answer does not make sense to me. If your battery had zero internal impedance, you could pull 100 MW out of a torch battery for a picosecond or so….

        • humanitarian solar

          Yes with torch batteries, an AAA, AA, C or D would all be rated at about 1.5Volts and reliably produce a constant 50mA or 1.5Volts x 50mA = 75mWatts though the torch fitted with a larger battery would deliver that same power rating for longer. So prioritising tenders depends on both the Watts needed to meet peak demand and the duration of the peak demand.

      • Antony Day

        I’m flabbergasted that you would defend this – capacity is measured in MWh or kWh , to use MW for capacity is just plain wrong, no matter how many tenderers may use the term.
        Referring to Elon Musk’s tweet here as well:
        “$250/kWh at the pack level for 100MWh+ systems. Tesla is moving to fixed and open pricing and terms for all products” He *never refers to MW when referring to capacity.
        In the recent series of tweets relating to SA’s possible storage solution Mike Cannon-Brooks incorrectly uses MW when referring to capacity but Elon doesn’t .

        • defending what? The tenders are issued in MW. California does, it, Germany does, S.a does it, Victoria did it too today. I understand that MWh are more meaningful to understand the installation, but we can’t make up the MWh, because that will depend on how the winning bids are configured.

          • Chris Jones

            So really, the 100 MW refers to the size of the inverters supplying the grid, not the battery providing it with power?

          • humanitarian solar

            Yes the inverters will be sized to the battery which will have a maximum power rating. The power rating in watts depends on how many battery cells and batteries are wired in series. The power rating in watt/hours depends on how many batteries are wired in parallel and how big the battery is.

          • nakedChimp

            Then either the people writing those reports/articles/tenders have no idea or something goes missing right there.

            The power level is important, but it’s at least as important for how long that power level can be held.
            If the 500MW are gone after 10 minutes or if they last 6 hours is a very big difference, which even bean counters should understand.

        • David leitch

          Antony You are wrong about this. In this space it’s MW that are the first consideration and MWh second.

          • Antony Day

            I’m not saying the power is not a consideration, it could even be the first consideration and it is an important one. What I am saying is that when referring to capacity one should not be using MW, you should be using MWh. When referring to solar arrays, or gas power stations, it obviously makes sense that one talks in power output ie MW, but when talking about storage, the capacity is the metric that one is talking about as a default. When EVs are discussed, it is the capacity of the drive battery that has relevance.
            When the Powerwall is announced they don’t talk about the power output, it is the capacity. I have now , after Giles claimed that Tenders use MW rather than MWh, come across at least 2 of my first hits on tender searches that use MWh, NOT MW.
            If you asked to tender on a 100MW battery storage unit, surely your first question would always be “how many hours”? You couldn’t possibly put in a bid without knowing that.

          • From the California government website: As a result, the CPUC established an energy storage target of 1,325 MW by 2020—the largest in the nation for the states investor owned electric utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric).

          • From the UK: The UK’s National Grid has accepted eight bids and a combined 201 MW from battery energy storage providers in its first Enhanced Frequency Response service tender.

          • More from UK National Grid: Every one of the bids expressed in MW. http://www2.nationalgrid.com/Enhanced-Frequency-Response.aspx

          • From the US PJM market: This battery project allowed PJM and the storage industry to better understand the operational and market nuances of this new technology. As a result of this initial work, AES has deployed more than 100 MW of merchant battery energy storage resources across the PJM footprint.
            http://www.gtai.de/GTAI/Content/EN/Invest/_SharedDocs/Downloads/GTAI/Fact-sheets/Energy-environmental/fact-sheet-energy-storage-market-germany-en.pdf

          • From Korea: “South Korea is in the midst of the world’s largest BESS frequency regulation project. The target is to install 500MW by 2017.”

          • frostyoz

            These are indeed MW power figures. But the batteries do not hold much energy. They are used for network frequency stabilisation, and primary control services, not for storage. The maximum requirement for primary control services in the German market is to provide 15 minutes of power.

            So, Steag’s 15MW battery would need only hold 3.75MWh of energy.

            https://www.steag.com/s-pressemeldungen-detailansicht+M5d66b344f75.html

            http://www.amprion.net/en/control-energy
            Contrasts that with energy-starved grids such as SoCal, where the requirement is that Telstra’s 20MW/80MWh battery farm be able to provide 4 hours of continuous power.
            So, I repeat, which is SA asking for? 15 minutes of 100MW (25MWh), or 4 hours of 100MW (400MWh)?
            The cost of the latter is about 16 times the former. Kind of silly not to tell the world which you want.

          • Kind of silly not to check out what’s on offer first. That’s why they having EOI. Go to the california and the SoCal tender page, it’s all in MW, not MWh.

          • Kind of silly not to check out what’s on offer first. That’s why they having EOI. Go to the california and the SoCal tender page, it’s all in MW, not MWh.

          • frostyoz

            The SoCal tender clearly says on its front page “5, 10, 15 or 20MW for a duration of at least 4 hours”.
            And in all of its project descriptions, Tesla refers to its SoCal project as “20MW/80MWh”.
            Let’s see how many MWh of real storage SA ends up getting.

          • Later in process. Here is original announcement from California and utility regulator, who according to our criteria, know nothing about battery storage. Not a MWh in sight.
            http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M079/K171/79171502.PDF

          • frostyoz

            Yes, so if SA really wants 100MW power output, you are saying it is looking for a system 5 times more powerful than the world’s largest battery? The world’s current largest is the 20MW / 80MWh SoCal Edison.

          • I’m not saying it – the south australian government is saying it. Maybe they will refine it as they go along. That’s what the EOI is for i imagine.

          • frostyoz

            The UK’s Enhanced Frequency Response service requires the battery to provide its power output for up to a maximum of 9 seconds. That is, a 20MW unit providing EFR need only have a capacity of 0.05MWh. That would be enough energy to power Bendigo or Ballarat for about 9 seconds.

          • hydrophilia

            I believe that CA, trying to be technology agnostic, has a requirement that the power level be sustained for a certain number of hours in any peaking power plant. The others probably do as well.

      • Antony Day

        Also if you read the AFR article which refers to Lyndon Rive’s offer , it uses the correct term
        http://www.afr.com/news/tesla-battery-boss-we-can-solve-sas-power-woes-in-100-days-20170308-gut8xh

        • because they were talking about a specific array and their own specifications

      • frostyoz

        Not at all Giles. Any decent tender requires a specification of capacity (MWh), and output (MW, expressed for both continuous and peak).
        Look at all of Tesla’s grid installations. They are expressed as 20MW/80MWh, 10MW/40MWh, and 500kw/1MWh.
        MW is a measure of instantaneous power, not capacity.
        It’s only the SA and VIC Governments who don’t understand that capacity is measured in MWh, not MW.

        • Oh, good grief. I went through this yesterday. The German, UK, Korea, California, PJM and New York authorities all express their tenders initially in MW! Then they define further depending on EOI. Or sometimes they don’t. Was is it with you MWh obsessives? That’s just what governments do, I Can;t make up the MWh for them.

    • Chris Jones

      Yes I’m sorry Giles, but I always find reports on batteries which quote MW extremely confusing. In this instance, a 100 MW battery makes no reference to capacity – that is, how long can it provide 100 MW for? An hour? five hours? Given the budget is for $25 million, I’m guessing the capacity will be around 100 MWh.

  • John Boyd

    I would be able to understand the discussion a bit better if I was confident everyone understood that you store energy in MWh, you use it in MW, and it is not clear from this article just how much energy this battery bank will store.

  • RobSa

    A slow transition to renewable power generation, carbon pricing and renewable energy targets is unlikely to be adequate. Much stronger measures will be required to halt global heating. Its going to be something like this.

    ==Fossil fuel phase out==
    *mandatory use of renewable power for all new infrastructure and development projects from 2020
    *ban sales of new gas-guzzlers and diesel engines by 2025
    *ban all sales of internal combustion engines by 2030
    *close all thermal coal mines by 2030
    *close all natural gas fired power stations by 2035
    *completely decarbonised grid by 2040
    *zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045

    • Joe

      I like your thinking but a ‘slow transition’ is not something that we can really afford to do. We have a planetary emergency on our hands right now. The polar ice caps are melting, the worlds major glaciers are in retreat, island nations are disappearing under the waves, the world’s coral reefs are being bleached to death and we have temperature records being reset each year. There is only one species on this planet that ‘soils its own nest’. The IPCC have been telling us for 30 years and Exxon knew for decades that climate change is caused by human activity and burning fossil fuels. Despite all the agreements at Paris Climate Conference last year the world’s carbon emissions keep rising and Australia is a champion with rising emissions. We have all the renewable energy sources available here in Australia, Solar, Wind, Hydro, Tidal, Geo Thermal, Bio Gas and yet we can only manage 15% renewable energy production…I call that a crime against the planet. We are at war to save a liveable planet in the future and yet The Fossil Fuelers, with Government in their pockets are happy with business as usual. In the end the people can only blame themselves for being so easily led. You don’t need to be an Einstein to understand the current situation and where it is heading without dramatic action being taken right now.

  • David Mitchell

    If we are going to have a new gas generator, then it needs to be load following gas reciprocating engines, not turbines. Google Wartsila if you want information on their flexible power plants. 250 MW would be something like 14 x 18.4 MW medium speed engines (18V50SG). As wind and solar ramp up/down, individual units switch on and off. That way the generators are always operating at optimal efficiency. Additional generators synchronize to the grid in under 10 minutes. The mechanical redundancy is also attractive, as is the black start capability. We don’t need new peak, we need load following.

    If we are going to build a new FF asset, lets make it as useful as possible.

  • Geoff

    Just the tip of the ice berg. Once Tesla (and I’m pretty sure they’ll get the contract) installs them and demonstrates that batteries can handle this, then there will be a flood of installations across the country. anyone know the stock price for Tesla energy or is it all under just Tesla?

    • humanitarian solar

      No hawkers thanks.

  • humanitarian solar

    After tenders for large scale storage projects of 100MW, would be great to move into tenders to reduce the price of medium scale projects – targeted for vulnerable communities due to long runs of poles and wires. Gives emergency crews valuable time to respond and increases resilience of communities.

  • Chris Drongers

    Alan Kohler in The Australian summed up the duplicity centred on “The Liberal’s” (which Liberal’s) sudden public interest in batteries. The best thing out of the Twitter flurry is the attention being focused on the Grattan Report on profit gouging in privatised electricity systems

  • Anne Daw

    I challenged Koutsantonis, resources and energy minister, prior to the briefing. I asked him if he was going to protect the South East prime agricultural land from gas. He said no, he would encourage the gas companies. The Moomba people don’t get royalties. He has promised 10% royalties for farmers that allow them on the land – this is to get social licence in the SE. Anne Daw leading campaigner for SE protection of agricultural land from mining and gas.

  • Anne Daw

    Koutsantonis clearly has not listened to the will of the people in the SE (over 90% of those surveyed do not want gas or mining in the SE. He has ignored the geological science. He fails to understand the significance and dependence of the potable aquifer which the SE depends on, and legislation in SA is hopeless. Please see media release I have sent through

  • Andy Saunders

    “It will act not as a competitor in the market”

    That’s a laugh. How will it not compete in the market? If it turns on, it’s supplying the market. Even if it’s just sitting there not running, it still influences the market…

    • hydrophilia

      Even if it does not turn on, it can bid into the market and reduce peak prices…

  • MaxG

    And while the big boys play, and switch whatever they are on to batteries or renewables, the spectators get excited, but the average public will not get a hint of a benefit (such as lower prices) but pay heavily through their nose — public money that is.
    Fascinating… 🙂

    • humanitarian solar

      Nonetheless, we need reverse auctions bringing down prices for large, medium and small scale applications of storage – including batteries. This will inevitably bring the technology increasingly into local and community based applications, control and ownership. It’s shaping up to be an economy which will benefit all of us, including small, medium and large businesses. Manufacturers are showing encouraging signs of cooperating with each other around battery installation guidelines and thereby creating a diverse, sharing and caring market, that will truly benefit the community in accommodating diverse applications in a diverse country.

  • Gnällgubben

    Another gas peaker? So they are going to build a new power station that will practically never run? What a waste of money! Buy a bigger battery installation instead, make it a GWh and get a far better grid (and there will even be a little money left over)!

  • Tom J C

    100MW is the maximum output of the proposed battery plant. By itself this is a fairly meaningless statistic.
    What is the capacity ?
    For how long can it deliver 100MWs ?

    • Peter F

      Battery installations usually have 2-4 hours storage a few down to about an hour. Peak demand in SA usually lasts a couple of hours

      • Tom J C

        I am just saying that re the proposed SA battery, I have still not seen a news report quoting anything other than 100MW.
        This is equivalent to quoting the capacity of a proposed reservoir as having a 100mm outlet, which gives no indication of the amount of water that can be stored.

        • Crikey. See our new story. SA still calling it 100MW battery – as do all governments in a tender. They have asked for expressions of interest, presumably to see what is out there and what it an do. Then i guess they likely to decide how many hours storage they want. Be patient ffs.

  • humanitarian solar

    Australia and every country of the world would benefit from having some local battery manufacturers. Experimentation with a diversity of battery chemistries also provides insurance for the environment if one or another chemistry proves more sustainable in the longer term.

  • juxx0r

    For $500M, i’d have gone with:
    500MWh of batteries at 250MW
    125MW solar
    65MW wind

    just to cut gas’s grass.

    • humanitarian solar

      As good as anyone has suggested. And make that as distributed throughout the SA grid as possible, as reverse auctions bring down the cost from large scale projects, to medium scale, then fringe of grid applications – to protect the state from wind and fire damage. If SA takes up this opportunity for leadership, the country will be on the way to a truly secure and resilient grid.

    • Peter F

      The peak output of your proposed system on a winter evening with low wind is about 250MW for two hours. The proposal from the government would give you 350MW for two hours and 250MW for two weeks.

      Over the year your system delivers lower cost power but it doesn’t quite match the emergency peak or even the winter doldrums supply of the government’s proposal.

      Still when behind the meter batteries are still going to be installed regardless and demand is trending down, it is not clear that more than 250MW of additional peak supply will be needed anyway.

      At current prices I would put in half the batteries you suggest 100/100 wind and solar and 100MW of reciprocating gas in distributed locations

      • juxx0r

        I agree with you right up till the last sentence. The aim of what I proposed was to take the game back off the gas generators. And i particularly agree that whatever happens self consumption solar and batteries will continue to be installed, so as you say demand will disappear.

  • Ricardo K

    I don’t understand the plan to build a new gas plant. During the blackout in early Feb, there was no gas to run Pelican Point, but 250MW was sitting idle. Why build a new 250 MW gas plant? Buy PP. In the meantime, surely a fine for non-performance is in order? I thought PP was earning a retainer for being on standby.

    • humanitarian solar

      Reading back through the comments, there’s been a consensus building a new gas plant has been a very bad idea. It may appear a political backstop for politicians seeking re-election in a year, however as soon as the national discussion progresses further, it will become really clear renewable energy can do it all, faster, cheaper, with RE/storage located pervasively throughout the entire SA grid. Now the technology has reached a tipping point in mainstream awareness, the pressing issue is targeted strategic on the ground approaches for generation, storage and grid resilience. Distributed generation and storage is by far the cheapest in terms of initial capital cost and long term maintenance. The article demonstrates SA has the technical officers, investment opportunities and tender processes to do this now. It merely has to bring the appropriate teams of people together.

  • Just_Chris

    Surely the smart thing to do would be to build a gas storage facility not another gas turbine. Perhaps there isn’t even a need for a new storage facility, couldn’t the SA government just legislate to ensure that there need to always be a minimum of 10 days worth of gas in the existing storage facilities? Adding another gas turbine to the system seems like a political solution not a sensible solution.

    • Chris Fraser

      Exactly. The use of the new generator is expected to, say, increase grid security from 99.99% to 99.999% uptime. That is, it’s not going to be used much. But how to store it is the question. If the storage area is to be kept low key it might cost a lot to keep the gas liquefied.

      • Peter F

        AGL built a system with a claimed 2 weeks storage in the Hunter without any subsidies https://www.agl.com.au/about-agl/how-we-source-energy/gas-storage/newcastle-gas-storage-facility-project

        • Just_Chris

          I found the following that seems to give a reasonable overview of the storage in the gas network – https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/…/Gas/National…/Core–Gas-Storage-Facilities.pdf .

          Interesting stuff, it appears that the issue might be how quickly we can access the gas rather than how much storage or how many gas turbines there are. Doing some rough (very rough) sums I come up with about a maximum of 1000 TJ per day extraction if we convert that into electricity in a 40% efficient gas turbine that gives 400 TJ per day or about 110 GWh – enough gas to run about 4.6 GW of gas turbines flat out. I don’t know how much inertia there is in the system or what distribution issues there would be but 4.6 GW doesn’t sound like a huge oversupply especially since I assume that the 1000 TJ number is a bit hypothetical. I can’t imagine every storage facility in the country being full, ready and primed to release its gas at maximum output just at the right time. I also guess the gas network will have the same issue as the Tassie hydro network – no one wants to store energy for a potential shortage, why would a company store billions of dollars of gas?

    • Greg Hudson

      No, it’s a Frontier Economics solution isn’t it ?

  • humanitarian solar

    Just to clarify, is the discussion framed around batteries because it has to be done before summer (and the next SA election)? Isn’t pumped hydro or molten salt cheaper and better for the environment? To me, batteries seem much better suited for rapid deployment to rural and fringe of grid areas.

  • Greg Hudson

    What a surprise seeing a gas gen (not)… Once Frontier Economics get involved, you are sure to get some kind of expensive FF ‘solution’ even it is not needed or wanted. They should stick to blowing smoke up Turnbulls arse.

  • Ian

    Am I missing something here but my understanding is that natural gas is partly compressed and piped in from production wells. It’s not stored, it comes up from the ground is compressed, then fed into the pipeline network and then extracted by numerous residential,business and power generating companies. 60% is used by the power companies. Currently these ramp production up and down on a daily basis but on the whole use roughly the same amount of gas daily. Households and businesses too would be using gas consistently from day to day. For the distribution network and gas wells to be most economic they need to produce, distribute and sell gas at a constant rate. The volume of the pipelines themselves may be enough to provide storage of gas for the daily variability in production and consumption of gas. What happens when a large gas generator of 250 MW is left idle for weeks and months at a time and then called on to suddenly generate electricity. These generators consume a lot of gas. Difficult to find but a rough consumption rate is 260m3/1MWH for a 250 MW plant running for 8 hours this would be 520 000m3 of gas. If this was compressed to LNG at 1/600 the volume is 870m3 of LNG -10 to 15 large road tankers. Could SA’s gas distributors handle such a large drain on their distribution network so infrequently?