The South Australia Labor government says it has received nearly 60 proposals from local and international companies for next generation renewable energy technologies and storage under its Renewable Technology Fund.
The deadline for the tender fell a day before the recent unveiling of the Tesla-Neoen big battery’s connection agreement with ElectraNet and news that the 100MW/129MWh project was already half complete.
The Tesla-Neoen big battery at the Hornsdale wind farm will likely account for around $20 million of the RTF, and the government call for more projects has attracted interest from a range of technologies, including batteries, bioenergy, pumped hydro, thermal, compressed air and flywheel.
State energy minister Tom Koutsantonis highlighted the three proposals from Adelaide-based 1414 Degrees, which is developing a “silicon battery” that stores heat and energy, and is looking for its first commercial-scale demonstration project.
Koutsantonis said among 1414’s proposals was a pilot 10MWh thermal storage project that could allow SA Water to store some of the energy it generates from biogas produced at the Glenelg Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The 1414 technology, while often described as a “battery”, actually focuses more on heat storage, and sees its biggest potential market in places like Europe, which relies heavily on district heating, particularly in winter,
“What this result shows is that companies around the world recognise the potential that exists in the energy and storage sector in South Australia,” Koutsantonis said in a statement.
“The applicants include some of the leading global companies operating at the forefront of these emerging technologies. We also received very exciting proposals from local businesses, demonstrating the incredible capability of the entrepreneurs we have in this State.
“The Renewable Technology Fund will not only help deliver clean, reliable and affordable power, it will also create new energy and renewables jobs in South Australia.”
The state government faces an election next March, the result of which has been complicated by the announcement that Nick Xenophon will quit the Senate and stand for state parliament, choosing a marginal Liberal seat and promising to field at least 20 candidates.
Xenophon says he wants to hold the balance of power in the state – although some suggest that he could actually become Premier.
Xenophon, a former state parliamentarian who originally ran on an “anti-pokies” ticket, voted with the conservatives to privatise the state’s electricity industry, and then emerged as a major critic of wind energy. South Australia has 1,700MW of wind power capacity, around half of all the capacity in the country.
The new fund is designed to support “firming renewable generation” such as storage or other technology that would allow wind and solar farms to provide increased increased inertia and system stability.
It also sought proposals for bulk energy storage – such as pumped hydro, compressed air or thermal storage – and for bioenergy from agricultural wastes or by-products.
Koutsantonis said successful applicants will be notified in the coming months. Presumably the government will be keen to square away the investments before it goes into “caretaker” mode.