The Clean Energy Finance Corporation says it will work with the South Australian government on a finance package to support delivery of the state’s newly announced grid-scale battery storage project – a planned 100MW facility that will be the largest of its kind in Australia.
The state’s nation-leading battery storage plans were announced on Tuesday as part of a $550 million scheme that also includes plans for a new 250MW government-owned peaking 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.
South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said a tender for the battery plant would be held as soon as possible to ensure the installation was completed by next summer. The project – which may be split into three separate projects – will be funded through the state’s new Renewable Energy Technology Fund.
News that the federal government’s green bank is now also on board to help finance the project follows a heated exchange on Thursday morning between South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg.
The stoush, which took place at the launch of AGL’s solar and battery storage virtual power plant trial in Adelaide, highlights the increasing policy divide between the federal Coalition government and many Labor states on the subject of energy reform and renewables.
During the exchange, Weatherill described the Turnbull government’s new $2 billion plan to expand the Snowy River scheme’s pumped hydro capabilities as a demonstration of its “white knuckle panic” about energy policy.
“It’s a $2 billion admission that the national energy market is broken and there needs to be public investments to actually fix it up,” Weatherill said.
“We cant wait for Snowy Mountain Scheme … South Australia has to go it alone.”
Frydenberg, meanwhile, described the South Australia’s battery plans as part of “a $500 million admission of failure” and a costly solution to a problem the Weatherill government “created themselves.”
But in comments released on Thursday, CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said what Australia’s energy market needed was a combination of readily available battery storage and longer-term solutions like pumped hydro.
“Projects that can be implemented rapidly like (the South Australia battery storage plant) can complement a range of longer-term projects under consideration, such as a Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0, Queensland’s proposed Kidston pumped hydro development and improvements to Tasmania’s electricity system centred around its long established hydro facilities, as well as additional interconnection,” Yates said.
“Today’s power systems are being digitised, with rapid and sophisticated control systems applying across the network. Regulatory systems need to keep up with the rapid pace of technology developments, supporting the adoption of new solutions that solve the new challenges,” he added.
“As South Australia is the leading state of renewable generation, it is set to become the leading state
for the adoption of these new solutions.
“The CEFC (is) confident we can work with speed to contribute to a successful outcome in South Australia. We are also confident we can create a model that can be used in other states as they seek to integrate growing renewable energy capacity into a cleaner, cheaper and reliable energy system,” he said.