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South Australia gets 31 proposals for new back-up generator

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The South Australian government has a lot of decision making to do.

On Thursday it revealed it had received 31 proposals for its proposed new emergency back-up generator, adding to the 90 proposals it got in response to its call for a 100MW/100MWh battery storage installation – Australia’s biggest.

Apart from deciding on the next moves for the tender for the back-up generator and the battery storage, the government is also yet to make a call on two other key tenders – one for “dispatchable” renewables for 25 per cent of its own electricity needs, and another for a “new player” for 75 per cent of its requirements.

The 250MW gas plant is possible the most controversial aspect of the state government’s $550 million “energy plan” released last month after it had a gutful of what it called the mismanagement of the local energy market, and the refusal by at least one generator to supply capacity when needed, causing rolling blackouts.

The gas generator is the biggest ticket item of the plan, at an estimated $360 million, and because energy minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the plant to run “all the time to help stabilise the grid”, there has been speculation that it could include a battery storage element (to provide the inertia but avoid fuel costs).

“There’s been interest from a dozen countries, including Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“We’ve been encouraged by the strong response from across the country and around the world,” premier Jay Weatherill said in the joint statement. “Our plan is all about self-sufficiency. It’s about South Australia standing on its own two feet.”

The government says the energy plan is designed to lower prices, improve reliability and ensure more of the State’s power is sourced, generated and controlled in South Australia.

The government says it is “evaluating” the response to the battery storage and gas plant tenders, and is also “shortlisting” candidates for its bigger government tender on electricity needs.

However, it has previously indicated that it had three shortlisted candidates, one of which is presumed, or at least hoped by its supporters, of being the proposed 110MW solar tower and storage plant in Port Augusta.

The energy security target, which will mandate a certain percentage of retailer’s demand is sourced within the state by dispatchable generation, is due to come into force on July 1. Emergency powers allowing Koutsantonis to intervene in the market, without consulting parliament, will be legislated laster this month.

  

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  • Rod

    I think RE had an article suggesting these might be in the mix but the list of bids doesn’t mention the US.
    https://powergen.gepower.com/products/aeroderivative-gas-turbines/lm6000-gas-turbine-family.html

    • D. John Hunwick

      Jay Weatherill must be congratulated and supported for the direction being taken in reference to SA its renewable energy and attack on climate change. This is no sudden conversion but the result of years of planning. Energy costs will come down, and future generations will be pleased that this state takes action to deal with climate change and GHG emissions,

      • Rod

        I agree but fear he is up against it this election. Probably due to erroneous media reporting, many in S.A. believe our energy price to be much higher than other States and blame renewables. Any issues with power next Summer and it’s all over for Jay.

        • Ian

          This gas plant will cost $360 million and run all the time this article quotes. What’s to celebrate about that? What’s so renewable about gas? Everyone hails this as a great coup for renewable energy deployment. It’s a frigging fossil Trojan Horse. Perhaps they will add some pie-in-the -sky carbon capture and storage when this technology becomes mature way in the future.

          • Rod

            If you follow the link it shows a hybrid aeroderivative unit that some think may be in the running. Some suggest 5 x 50MW or maybe another version which is 2 x 100MW but can be tweaked to 125MW
            The hybrid part means it has a battery which can be charged from any source and keeps the unit running (don’t quote me) or in a ready state. No gas until the unit is called into service. They have stated it will be used only when needed. i.e. price spikes or low generation availability. It is my hope that that is the case. Although it may appear to be an expensive white elephant, its mere presence and ability to participate in FCAS and other grid services will actually save SA consumers money. IMHO
            These units also claim very good efficiencies. 44% OC
            I’m not in favour of the entire plan, FF subsidies etc. but it is certainly better than anything coming out of Canberra or the local opposition.

          • Steve Fuller

            Nobody has ever argued that we are in anything but a transition phase. Decisions either hasten or slow down the transition. The gas back up generator is an immediate political response to decisions to misbehave by major players that will deal with security issues and take the political heat arising from further blackouts.

            As the transition quickens with maturing battery storage, pumped hydro etc the integration any new gas powered infrastructure need not act as a trojan horse for fossils. Methane from biological sources could replace the fossil methane and the emerging clean methane decomposition technologies (eg Hazer turning methane into hydrgen and graphite) could transform the value and use of fossil methane.

            The transition is going to be complicated as new technologies are stimulated into action and incumbents fight to survive. But it is already happening and with the right decision makers and the right decisions we can hope that it will get us to a clean energy system in time. It’s our job to get the right decision makers.

        • D. John Hunwick

          You are right – need to put pressure on Liberals so that if they win they continue the good work

  • Goldie444

    I hope as part the South Australian government’s decision making, they give consideration to the upgrade of Kangaroo Island’s power needs and what sea cable may be built. If KI was 100% renewable and there was a suitable cable link, power could flow back to Adelaide if required – ie make Kangaroo Island a ‘big battery’.

  • Alan S

    Giles, I note you cite this as a 100 MW / 100 MWh battery. This isn’t a challenge but where does the MWh figure come from? I’ve heard 400 MWh bandied about by journalists but they’ve never quoted a definitive source.

    • The government tender documents.

    • Mike

      A perennial problem is that megawatt and megawatt-hour seem to be interchangeable in the mind of many. If I write 100 MW that is a unit of power which is fairly useless because how long can I get that 100 MW for? A 10th of a second, an hour or maybe four hours. If it is Tesla they quote that their powerpack will deliver for four hours. Their 100 MW is constructed from their powerpacks so 400 MWh.

      • FeFiFoFum

        Thats also misleading.
        Tesla will supply a battery arrangement to suit your requirements based on what you specify ( large scale grid connected batteries that is..)
        So if you specify 100MW / 100MWh that is what you will get.
        The more batteries you connect in parallel, determines the capacity of the battery (MWh).

        There is an exception to this which is the ESS iron flow battery which has a chemistry of 1:5 ( or maybe it was 1:4) so 400kW / 2000kWh in their standard configuration.

    • FeFiFoFum

      I don’t think so.
      There is a ‘guillotine’ arrangement that diverts the exhaust gas to an open stack, or to the boiler tube arrangement.
      I don’t believe it can be operated to changeover once the unit is running.

      • Alan S

        Thanks, do you have experience in gas turbine and combined cycle operations? I know it’s done at Moomba for process heating but was asking whether it’s done for enhanced electrical generation.

        • FeFiFoFum

          Actually working at a site right now where we have 450MW of CC gas turbine generation..

          Have previously dispatched up to 600MW of open cycle gas turbines ..

          I will ask the operators at this power station if they can changover the guillotine on load.

  • Mike

    The gas power station quoted in this article is most likely Pelican Point. It has 2 turbines which I gather are about 400 MW each at the time of the blackout one turbine was shut down and the other only running for short periods of time. It is owned by Engie the same people that closed Hazelwood. They claim the gas was not cheap enough at the time to make a profit so they reduced operation. Perhaps the South Australian government could make them an offer more than likely they want to get out. They are penalised because they are beholden to renewable energy production. Seems the South Australian government is thinking they will run all the time. I don’t know how that works but there you have it. The station is a going concern and probably can be picked up quite cheaply.