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Victoria’s energy storage deadlines could rule out solar thermal

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The Victorian government’s push for 100MW of energy storage appears to impose deadlines could be impossible to meet for some technologies, including solar thermal and pumped hydro.

The state government announced last week that it was expanding its energy storage tender from 20MW to 80MW, and would invite proposals from batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel, and solar thermal technologies.

solar thermal

But its deadline seems impossible to meet for at least two of those technologies – with 30MW expected to be installed by next summer and 50MW by the following summer.

Pumped hydro facilities are likely to take several years to build, because of the infrastructure needed for dams and tunnels or pipelines. Likewise, solar thermal technologies such as solar towers would take at least two years, insiders say.

Proposals for the Victoria tender are due to be submitted by next month, after which time the government is likely to provide more information in a formal tender about capacity and hours of storage needed.

It has already done so for its first storage tender, in the north-west around Horsham and Bendigo, or in the south-west around Terang, where it is seeking 20MW/80MWh of battery storage to deal with a specific issues in the local grid, and to enable it to welcome more wind and solar plants in the future.

It is just one of a number of large scale storage tenders, with South Australia looking for 100MW of battery storage, with initial expressions of interest due next week, and also seeking battery storage in tandem with peaking gas plants for emergency back-up.

South Australia is also due to release “soon”, the results of its tender for 25 per cent of the government electricity needs to be provided by “dispatchable renewables”, meaning wind and solar with storage.

 

   

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  • Tim Forcey

    Yeah planning and acting in advance gives you more options.

    Failing to plan ahead reduces your options.

    As Tony Wood from the Grattan Institute has been quoted as saying: “If you don’t buy milk on the way home, you won’t have any in the morning.”

    • Ren Stimpy

      Ever tried orange juice on your Coco Pops?

      • solarguy

        Do you want vegemite with that too?

        • Ren Stimpy

          Yeah four heaped scoops of Vegemite into that bowl and we would have a pretty good scale model of our national energy policy right there.

  • Michael James

    Australia has the politicians with the shortest-term outlook in the world. All the Anglophone world suffers from it but Australia stands out even amongst them. If any infrastructure project takes longer than the political cycle, so there can’t be a unveiling (ie. photo-op) of a brass plaque by the politicians who authorise a project, then they’re not going to do it. Labor are a lot better than conservatives, eg. Snowy 1.0, SOH, NBN, renewable energy (ARENA, CEFC etc). Conservatives hate spending money on such things and the more forward-looking the project the more they hate it. Even worse today they attempt to destroy any such forward-looking infrastructure such as the NSW coalition trying their hardest to wreck the Sydney Opera House (luckily it was beyond the point of cancellation), renewable energy, Sydney’s second airport, HSR, and absolutely appalling, the NBN mess.

    • Just_Chris

      IMO Australians are very reluctant to do anything to avoid a problem. Planning just seems beyond this nation, until the problem arises we’ll do nothing.

      In 10 years time how many power stations will have closed? It takes 10 years to build a power station so perhaps we should start looking at our options now to replace those power stations that will be closed…… nah, we’ll leave it to the market or worse pass laws that block new generation being built. Then when the power station closes we’ll panic and build a hap hazard mixture of badly thought out projects that leave our grid in a mess. The previous liberal state government blocked all new wind farms, how welcome would those wind farms be next summer. These batteries are great but really we need to be building more generation capacity this year and planning for when the rest of the brown coal generation leaves the market, not to mention be planning for the black coal generators shutting in NSW.

      • Michael James

        IMO Australians are very reluctant to do anything to avoid a problem. Planning just seems beyond this nation, until the problem arises we’ll do nothing.

        You are correct and I forgot to add my usual advice to those who whinge and bitch about our politicians: look in the mirror. We get the politicians we deserve. I mean can you believe that the LNP’s polling figures have jumped upwards by 3 points, apparently due to the song-and-dance about Snowy 2.0? (No, I can’t, it’s a typical poll spike.) What next, the PM giving a Powerpoint with kittens playing the piano?

        really we need to be building more generation capacity this year

        No, there is plenty of idle generation capacity. Look at SA with 240MW just in the half of Pelican Point that Engie is reluctant to use, plus another few hundred MW elsewhere in the state. The problem is the price of gas (its availability is merely a result of the export price). If ever there was a national interest test for the government to act this is it. But it seems they refuse .. on behalf of Big Gas who took the gamble of building three times as much LNG liquefaction plants as they actually had gas for, and then raided the domestic gas supply.

        • Just_Chris

          Sorry, you are quite right we don’t need more gas generation we just need to fill the existing gas network and storage facilities with gas. By new generation I meant – new solar thermal, increasing the size of any hydro-electric where we can, more pumped hydro storage and a whole heap of strategically located wind + solar. Potentially adding better interconnection to Tassie plus more wind combined with pumped hydro there would also help.

          New or existing gas fired power stations are simply a result, IMO, of a failure to plan ahead and to properly manage where we install our renewable energy. Gas is one of the most expensive forms of generation per kWh and reduces the amount of gas we can export. This is a double whammy in terms of loss to the country, we should be conserving our gas for export or peaks in domestic consumption and planning properly so we can use our renewable energy resources effectively. Every GJ of gas we export to Japan and South Korea displaces a GJ of coal fired generation so lets replace the gas in Australia with wind, solar and hydro and replace the coal (not all of which comes from Australia) in Japan and South Korea with Australian gas.

          • Brian Tehan

            The only good thing about using existing gas power stations is that it gives us some breathing space to build the renewables and storage that should have already been built. Also, it negates the argument about building more coal power. It’s not going to replace renewables because it’s significantly more expensive but, then again, who knows in our chaotic energy “market”.
            Why should we conserve our gas for export when we’re getting nothing for it? It’s costing us more to “subsidise” exports with higher local prices.

  • humanitarian solar

    Victoria’s approach of focusing storage around vulnerable communities on the grid sounds fantastic. I’m really looking forward to hearing about these projects and how we develop benchmarks for understanding and documenting their contributions to grid security.

  • solarguy

    What their getting is ok for now, but a bit more planning needed for better future options, starts now!