South Australia commits $180m to batteries, storage and virtual power plants

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South Australia government to target 5,000 homes this financial year as its Home Battery Storage grants plan finally moves ahead. Its part of a suite of initiatives to support transition to renewables grid.

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The South Australia Liberal government is getting ready to finally roll out its Home Battery Scheme after confirming $180 million has been allocated for the promised installation of small-scale battery storage in 40,000 homes, as well as large-scale batteries and demand management schemes, including virtual power plants.

The commitment to storage and other technologies supporting the transition to a renewable energy grid was confirmed in the government’s budget – released on Tuesday – its first since it won power in the March state election.

Details of the Home Battery Scheme have yet to be released, but are promised “very soon”.

The budget papers suggest it is largely along the lines foreshadowed – a total of $100 million budgeted over four years to allocated $2,500 grants for battery storage for up to 40,000 homes.

Interestingly, the budget papers also note that this would also be available for “low income” households, although it doesn’t explain how. RenewEconomy understands that a minimum $12.5 million has been allocated for the current financial year, suggesting 5,000 homes.

The budget papers says the investment in home battery storage will help lower demand across the broader electricity network to place downward pressure on prices for other consumers.

Another $50 million has been allocated over four years to “facilitate development of new storage technologies to address intermittency within the state’s electricity system.”

It says funding will be provided to eligible projects which are able to dispatch energy into the grid during periods of peak demand, demonstrate a new or substantially improved technological application, or contribute to improving the economics of storage technologies.

Another $30 million over three years is allocated to demand response, aggregation and integration of distributed generation – an apparent response to the call by the Australian Energy Market Operator for more work to be done to “orchestrate” the states localised generation, particularly as it output matches grid demand in coming years.

This money would be spent on a series of trials to establish mechanisms to reward consumers financially for demand flexibility and changing their consumption patterns to reduce peak demand to lower energy system costs. It would also focus on technologies such as switching, smart meters and virtual power plants.

“These initiatives will build upon trials such as those being undertaken by the Australian Energy Market Operator and network operators,” it notes.

  • And there is another $4 million in the budge (plus a “financial guarantee of $10 million), to get things moving on the proposed new interconnector to NSW, which may cost $1.5 billion.
  • This money would help begin work on  detailed line route and site selection works, concept design and construction planning, as well as environmental and social impact assessments, while the overall project goes through the regulatory process.

The budget papers also noted that the $150 million Renewable Technology Fund – used by the previous Labor government to support a range of storage initiatives, including the Tesla big battery, pumped hydro assessments, and an assortment of mini-grid applications, will also be disbanded.

However, all commitments will be honoured, including the recent Lake Bonney battery storage initiative supported by the current state government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

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