SA Liberals vow to continue energy transition, go big in batteries | RenewEconomy

SA Liberals vow to continue energy transition, go big in batteries

SA Liberal energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan vows to continue state’s dramatic energy transition, and flags support for programs that could deliver 100,000 household batteries.


Dan van Holst Pellekaan, the energy minister in the newly elected South Australia Liberal government, has vowed to continue the state’s dramatic energy transition and show other states “how it can be done”.

In a keynote speech to the Australian Energy Storage conference and exhibition in Adelaide on Wednesday, van Holst Pellekaan said expectations that the election of a Liberal government would be the end of clean energy in the state were false.

“We heard about the end of renewables and return to energy systems of the past,” van Holst Pellekaan said.

“The transition is underway, and the transition will continue. It is being driven by the fundamental economics of clean energy as the lowest cost new build energy source.

“South Australia will lead and show the world how a sensible transition can be done.”

In the speech, and in a later interview with RenewEconomy that readers will be able to download next week from our Energy Insiders podcast, van Holst Pellekaan says the focus will be on an “orderly transition” built around storage.

And apart from large-scale storage projects such as the Tesla big battery at Hornsdale and other battery storage projects, pumped hydro, hydrogen and solar thermal, he said his government was keen to embrace household storage

Van Holst Pellekaan also made it clear that the proposed 40,000 batteries that would be installed as the result of the Liberals $100 million subsidy scheme would be “connected”, possibly working as a virtual power plant, although the final details had not been worked out.

This is a significant step forward and it is understood it comes after the government was swamped by enquiries from battery storage manufacturers and developers, all keen to promote the idea of pooling household storage to create an important grid asset, and reduce costs.

The new energy minister also held out hope that the Tesla plan for a 250MW “virtual power plant” combining solar and storage on 50,000 low-income homes could still emerge, as could other schemes involving sonnen and a possible manufacturing base.

“We will not throw the baby out with the bath water,” he said. “The Liberal government means more, not fewer, batteries. And we are excited about the opportunities for battery assembly.”

The various initiatives could see South Australia emerge with some 100,000 household batteries – the equivalent to more than one in ten homes.

That will provide an immensely valuable resource for the local grid, which is likely to see rooftop solar production exceed minimum demand on some occasions within 10 years.

Uncertainty around the government’s plans for the household storage scheme was cited as a major factor in the sharp drop in rooftop solar installations in April, as many households decided to wait until a decision was made.

There is also concern that the lack of a visible and stated renewable energy target will be an impediment in the industry, even though Labor’s much vaunted targets had only ever trailed what was expected to be built.

Van Holst Pellekaan says the Liberal government rejects renewable targets, but referred nevertheless to the inevitability of striving to a 100 per cent renewable energy future.

“It is also important to recognise that while we strive for a 100 per cent renewables world, gas will play a necessary part in our generation mix for a while to come,” he said in his speech.

“The proportion of clean energy will continue to rise. We will not set targets, but we will focus on delivering cleaner and more affordable and reliable energy for our state.”

In the end, the transition is likely unstoppable in any case, given that the state has already reached more than 50 per cent wind and solar, and the projects already under construction and planned by the likes of Sanjeev Gupta will take it beyond the Labor target of 75 per cent renewables.

Van Holst Pellekaan finds himself at the heart of that transition. His electorate of Stuart covers many of the state’s major renewable and storage projects.

His home is in a small town just south of Port Augusta, where two brown coal generators are being replaced by a 220MW solar farm, a 212MW wind farm with battery storage, and the world’s biggest solar tower with molten salt storage.

Van Holst Pellekaan said the contracts for the solar tower from the South Australian government, and for $110 million in funds from the federal government, were still in place and it was now waiting for SolarReserve to confirm its plans and land the rest of the finance.

The minister said the Tesla big battery, operated by Neoen, had clearly captured the world’s attention with its key role in grid stability services, its response to major trips and its faster reaction time than thermal generator.

He also spoke about the need to develop “big data” and “machine learning” as the state moved into the world’s largest non-synchronous electricity grid – a theme also taken up by AEMO chief Audrey Zibelman.

And he talked of the importance of a new connection with NSW, which unlike Victoria had different weather conditions and offered the opportunity to trade energy.

Van Holst Pellekaan spoke of a renewable energy zone to be built in the area to the east of the state, adjoining a similar zone in the west of NSW.

And he spoke of the need to decarbonise transport and his government’s interest in electric vehicles.

“The biggest contribution we can make to lower carbon emissions is to make electricity clean and more affordable so the uptake can happen more swiftly.

“By showing how it is done, other states and countries can also plan their (clean energy) transitions.”

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  1. manicdee 3 years ago

    I am happy to see the SA Liberals are grown-up enough to ensure stability in policy now that they are in charge, even if it is only a cursory throwaway phrase about not throwing the virtual power plant baby out with the “made by the Labor Party” ideological bathwater.

    Energy security is bigger than ideological battles between political parties.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Whoa Nelly!

    • PLDD 3 years ago

      I used to work for a company with a lot of government business and once asked if we should be concerned about a change of government.

      My wise colleague said new governments rarely reverse policies* they inherit especially if the policy resulted in a lot of political flack at the time. They new government usually recognizes they can just continue with policy and reap the rewards as the results come in and if there are any issues just blame the previous government. A risk free benefit.

      * Trump being the exception that proves the rule.

      • palmz 3 years ago

        The Vic Labour gov also did something similar (Trumpwise) with East West Link but in all fairness the Libs should not have signed those contracts when they should have been in caretaker mode.

        • PLDD 3 years ago

          I suspect the exception is when the real pain in the project arrives on your watch. I assume there would have been lots of traffic issues and cost blow outs like Sydney’s light rail.

      • manicdee 3 years ago

        Pity about the NBN and the CPRS though.

      • Kate 3 years ago

        That, or allow the previous government’s policy with some ‘adjustments’ that all but ensures it’s failure to some degree, and then gleefully cackle on about the failures of the previous government.

        I admit, right at this moment I am substantially suspicious that is something along the lines of what is happening. But you know what – on the basis of their having done this so far, I’m going to suspend my paranoia and see what they do with the rest of their term. There is 3 possible ways they can go:
        1) they follow through on their polispeak and actually support more renewables/infrastructure development;
        2) they sit back on their heels, do nothing, and claim any failures on the previous government and any wins as their own; or
        3) they actively promote the agenda of the FF brigade, and work against climate change concerns.

        Actions speak louder than words.

        Time will tell.

        Etcetera, etcetera.

        • PLDD 3 years ago

          Agree time will tell and politicians are always fickle.

          My point was to illustrate that the standard assumption that governments reverse their predessors policies is often incorrect. Sometimes they do, but more often than not they don’t.

          Often vocal opponents of an idea in opposition adopt it when in power. Unfortunately in our system the opposition needs to object to everything that gets a public airing no matter how sensible.

          That always puts them in a tricky position when in power and they need to be more pragmatic. And that is also why minor parties can make outrageous policy statements because they know there is no chance they will be tested in practice.

          I hope I am correct – but I wouldn’t wager any money on a politician doing anything predictable.

          • Kate 3 years ago

            I used to work in public service at the commonwealth level and I remember when I first started I had a discussion with a public service long hauler about change in government and the policy impact on us as public servants (Howard having just been voted in). I remember them telling me that whatever politicians might say to the media and the public, the truth of the matter is that the legislation enacted is usually a long time in development from it’s starting idea, and more often than not it’s likely either party would pass it in some form or another.

            Of course that was over 20 years ago now. It’s hard to imagine at the federal level that on any legislation regarding carbon and climate the major parties would have much in common, whereas I suppose on things more domestic/local like unemployment programs they’d be fairly similar still.

  2. MrMauricio 3 years ago

    Will believe when i see it!!!

  3. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    Trying not to judge early, but did even the good folk of SA see this coming ? With all the different clean technologies being designed for, be careful the Mon-tards don’t find out.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      Too early to judge. We have seen a decade of inaction on everything from the Libs in the 1990s to accompany a recession. Topped off with the cop out, “we had to urgently sell ETSA” after two full terms!
      I’m waiting for the “Labor left us all this debt and disaster so all that stuff we promised, nah.”

  4. Joe 3 years ago

    The Pelican is giving it plenty with his very favourable comments. Me thinks that he sees that the RE Train set in motion by ex-Premier Jay is now an unstoppable force. So jump onboard and ride the RE Train!

  5. Cooma Doug 3 years ago

    Great news.

  6. Jonathan Milford 3 years ago

    Great news and great ammunition for the NCC Repower NSW campaign. If the NSW Liberals don’t step up, they will be tossed out next March.

  7. Edgar 3 years ago

    I assume the pelican will be out of a job next week.

    Maybe he should go the full hat and suggest that the government restart the car industry but producing EVs… now that would get Tony & The God-Squad frothing at the mouth.

  8. Chris Griffiths 3 years ago

    Well done Dan, SA has an Excellent Opportunity to achieve 100% Renewables, perfect Climate and Geography to produce complimentary Mix of Solar, Wind, Storage.
    Go Dan, Go.

    • rob 3 years ago

      Dan belongs to the SATAN’S SPORN party……..All talk no action . S.A. is heading to 75 % renewables very soon no matter what! The Liarberals can’t [email protected]@ken stop it…… instead they will take credit for JAY AND TOM’S work!

  9. Jon 3 years ago

    Great news!!
    Be interesting to see what stance SA takes on the NEG not having an emissions target.

    • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

      Yes. I hope SA libs insist that their renewables are not to be counted to allow other states to do even less than an inadequate target.

  10. Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

    Shit outta luck Danny to expect gas to be cheap in Australia.

    Aus sourced gas is mainly destined for the LNG export market.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Woops, Danny fooked off. The truth hurts it seems.

  11. Chris Jones 3 years ago

    Well SA has no coal worth mining so I guess the SA Libs are not heavily invested in it. Perhaps they have decided to make SA Labor’s strength their own, having a great foundation to build on. Maybe they see the money in lots of RE in the state, and want to keep Mr Gupta on side. Maybe they think the more ash forum will lose a few members this year or next so they are not too concerned about national backlash.

    As for targets – why be too concerned when RE is likely to pass 75% in 3 years or so anyway.

    Well anyway, time will tell.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      I think they would be more on the rational side of the to-ing and fro-ing….

    • PLDD 3 years ago

      SA always finds it hard to attract jobs and investment. Renewable energy leadership is good in supporting the entrpenaurial, business friendly credentials of the State Liberals in SA. And as there are so few other states with the same credibility they are well placed to make the running.

      I suspect NSW is starting to quietly turn as well (don’t tell Alan Jones – maybe they could sneak some renewable power into the new Football stadium). It’s really hard to be an example of ideology of economics and the state Liberals in NSW know they don’t need any additional handicaps.

  12. Ian 3 years ago

    Dan’s the man. He could show some bipartisanism and invite Jay to give him some support and advise. As other’s have said SA ‘s renewables transformation is just about a done deal. Behind the meter storage and electric vehicles is the next move. He could make his mark with this. Sonnen’s call to assemble batteries is not a bad start. Calls to manufacture batteries is another valuable industry for SA. He needs to get the mines in his state on board since they are massive energy users.

    Amazingly, Adelaide is a city of public transport according to a Wikipedia article most buses are diesel or gas powered. This could be fantastic opportunity to develop a specialised EV refit or manufacture industry. They already have a kernel of a EV conversions industry, namely, the company Volta.

    Mine jobs are great, but in my experience, the flyin flyout culture is destroying families. In the future Australia we need fleet-footed, high value manufacturing right near people’s homes. This EV transformation is SA’s chance to help families stay together.

    • Ian 3 years ago

      If a Chinese electric bus costs $300 000, for $100 000 000 a year they could buy 300 of these a year. For the sake of illustration. Or, assuming an EV conversion of an existing diesel bus costs 1/2 the price of a new Ebus, the savings on diesel would pay for these over 5 or 10 years or sooner. Using proper motivation, they could get this money from the Federal government since this experiment would benefit the whole of Australia.

      The suggestion was made that the new government of Tasmania could distinguish themselves with a rapid transformation to an electric transport system, but it seems they are more keen to put a few solar panels on an old folk’s home as their contribution to the fight against global warming. I hope Dan takes up a proper challenge to electrify his state’s transportation.

      • Rod 3 years ago

        We had great plans for trams (electric) but I expect that to grind to a halt now.
        Billions for a north south freeway are all systems go though.

        • Ian 3 years ago

          That’s a real shame. However, to keep the conversation going, just to show what is easily possible. Here are some guesstimated figures, not having access to real figures, damn google, 100 buses travelling 1000km a day, each consuming 40l/100km diesel and energy efficiency of 40%. Energy density of diesel 37MJ/litre = 10kWh/litre diesel , energy efficiency of EV 90% from grid to wheel (guesstimate). Cost of new ebus say $300 to $500thousand each =$30 to 50 million.

          So, to the calcs then: consumption of diesel per day 40 000 l = 400MWh. Grid energy required to run these buses = 200MWh.

          So, for a saving of 400MWh/ a day of polluting, asthma-inducing, heat and audible-noise producing foreign currency-draining, terrorist-nation supporting , global-warming diesel , you could convert to Electric buses using 200MWh of home-grown and sourced grid electricity. This would give a load opportunity for any of the grid generators, usually in the daytime period.

          Cost of diesel say 130c/l = $52000/day cost of electricity at PPA prices at 10 to 20c/kWh $20 000 to $40 000/day. Say a saving of $10 000 a day $3.6 million a year , 8 to 13 years to pay these off out of fuel savings.

          Unless we flesh out the idea of electric vehicles, in this case buses, we will be just stabbing in the dark.

          • Rod 3 years ago

            From a public transport efficiency angle I prefer trams/light rail as they have their own dedicated lanes.
            But I would personally be very happy to see our OBahn buses electrified. I live adjacent to the track.

          • Ian 3 years ago

            This OBahn line seems to have been a public transport utilisation success. I am sure you would appreciate a silent, pollution free OBahn neighbour!

          • Rod 3 years ago

            It is without a doubt a huge success moving around 30,000 commuters per day. And it replaced a mooted freeway. Thankfully we dodged that disaster.
            We are used to the, mainly, tyre noise but I do get concerned about the emissions.

          • Ian 3 years ago

            There are so many ideas trialled around the world for public transport and so many that have been highly successful. Buses on everyday streets, may not be the most elegant public transport option, but the cost to do a straight swap from Diesel to Grid electricity sourced ebuses is dirt cheap.

          • Kate 3 years ago

            It’s great for a small amusement ride as well, Sit right at the back of one those conjoined buses and ride the waves as the buses speed along.

            Fun times.

            …I’m like one of those escalator loving people that Trevor Noah makes fun of…

          • Kate 3 years ago

            “electrified” …but what will that do to all those civilian vehicles that mistakenly turn into the OBahn tracks…?

            I can see it now, and for some reason it’s a vision that is very cartoonish.


          • Rod 3 years ago

            Sometimes you can’t stop stoopid.
            But it has been a while since anyone drove on the track AFAIK.

          • palmz 3 years ago

            The best i could find on KM and buses for Adelaide is
            page 9 In-service kilometres by capital city 2005–06 to 2007–08
            the buses did 40.5Km

            In Table 5 Bus service vehicles by capital city, January 2009
            878 buses

            sadly I have not found numbers that match up. (time wise)

            But 40,500,000/878 is 46,128 km I think it would be sake to round up to 50,000 km each year (non in service km)

            The data I am using is pretty old and dose not line up well. but using it I would say your 1000km per day is a bit high. I am sure my numbers are a bit low at 137 km per day. But even if I double them that is still less than a third of 1000 km a day.

      • Peter Campbell 3 years ago

        ACT is trialing a couple of those electric buses and some other places are too. The ACT govt. has transport as its next item on the agenda for decarbonising now we are more than half way to 100% renewable electricity in 2020.

        • Ian 3 years ago

          Just for fun, I did a back of envelop calculation to decarbonise Adelaide’s bus system and it is posted below. The assumptions may be a little off but any late-night tablet-engineer could refine this.

  13. JIm 3 years ago

    Delighted but not entirely surprised. Let’s see what happens in other non-Labor electorates which are emerging renewables hubs, like western NSW.

  14. Richard 3 years ago

    Great news! It helps when you have some of the best RE sources in the world.
    Go SA!

    • rob 3 years ago

      I want to up vote you 1000 times

    • Rod 3 years ago

      And if it wasn’t for that damned tornado and 22 transmission towers lying on the ground, Jay would be enjoying his day in the sun, so to speak.

  15. Gary Rowbottom 3 years ago

    A good start Dan, congratulations on some clear direction of agenda. I am not surprised at the sensible approach from you, the threat to progress was/is always party lines/Federal influence. Actual actions & results will be the legacy of achievements but I like the start, not taking away from the fact the previous SA Government set up some great foundation stones for where we are now. I’d be delighted if it becomes very unclear as to who made the best progress. Very tired of jokes about SA lights going out and high price comments directed at renewables.

  16. mick 3 years ago

    nah marshalls an idiot dont trust them watch gupta see how he moves

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      Gupta = vaporware IMO. You have to examine what he’s up to in India…

  17. johannes 3 years ago

    Excellent to hear that the SA Libs are smart enough to understand the clear economic advantages of RE. Now if only DvHP could convince some of his Liberal counterparts in Canberra of the stupidity of their positions.

  18. Greg Hudson 3 years ago

    He seems to think he is ‘leading’ the transition, when in fact the ACT is far ahead already…

  19. Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 3 years ago

    I’m not buying it, talk is cheap.
    If they actually mean it then the proof will be in the pudding and i suggest holding their hands in the fire until its done.
    Then they will take credit for what they were forced to do, as if it was their idea, but the point is it will be done.

    • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

      It’s going to be hard for SA Libs to walk back from this one.

      • Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 3 years ago

        I hope your right

  20. Kate 3 years ago

    Well tie me down and call me sport, I *NEVER* thought I’d see a Liberal party do this.

    Good beginnings to their term, let’s see if they can keep the momentum going.

  21. orko138 3 years ago

    Pellekaan has a point

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