US energy giant GE has won a South Australia tender for more than 250MW of back-up generation, and says the trailer-mounted diesel-gas turbines will be in place in time for the demand peaks expected in the summer heatwave.
GE is combining with US mobile energy specialist APR, which will install the technology and associated infrastructure, to deliver 9 of its aero-derivative TM2500 units, which it says are quick to install, can ramp up within minutes and together will provide 275MW of power.
It means that the South Australian government appears to have killed two birds with one stone – as it will no longer need to install other emergency back-up generators to help the state manage peak demand and any other crises this summer.
“This solution will deliver more generation capacity than originally planned, while emitting less carbon pollution than Torrens Island Power Station,” premier Jay Weatherill said.
The tender for back-up generators was announced earlier this year after tens of thousands of households were left without power while the state’s biggest unit stood idle because there was no market signal.
The tender – which attracted 31 submissions was part of a $550 million response that included the tender for the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery installation, which will be built by Tesla and Neoen, and an energy security target, which has since been put on the back-burner.
South Australia treasurer and energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said in a statement that the units would be initially installed at the Adelaide desalination plant and at the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth, and wold operate on diesel fuel over the next two summers.
They would then be relocated to a permanent location as a state-owned power plant operating on gas, delivering 275MW of capacity, more than the 250MW originally outlined.
Koutsantonis said while the plants would operate on diesel, they would emit 25 per cent less emissions than the now closed Northern power station, and once operating on gas would be more efficient than the ageing Torrens Island power station.
The units mean that South Australia will have added 275MW of diesel capacity, 100MW/129MWh of battery storage and an as yet undetermined amount of demand management to help the market operator cope with issues this summer.
The gas units will only be switched on when needed. The government says it will not be a new player in the market, apart from when potential shortfalls emerge.
“South Australia is already a world-leader in renewable energy generation and our technology will complement these efforts,” Geoff Culbert, the president and CEO of GE Australia, said in a statement.
“GE’s TM2500 units are a power plant on wheels. They are a proven technology that will provide secure and reliable power to South Australian businesses and households.”
GE said the TM2500 units offered significant flexibility compared with other base-load generation options currently available. Each TM2500 unit can generate more than 30MW of electricity and can be started progressively as demand increases, ensuring generation capacity can be efficiently delivered when required.
(RenewEconomy had predicted a GE win back in March, although we went for the wrong units, suggesting the TM6000 aero derivative engines, possibly in combination with some sort of storage).
Being trailer-mounted, TM2500 units can be transported via land, sea or air and redeployed to other sites within an electricity grid. The mobility offered by TM2500 units allows them to be redeployed to support future needs for grid stability and electricity demand.
TM2500 units also have the capability of generating electricity using gas and/or distillate liquid fuel, thereby maximising fuel availability and supply options.