The South Australian government has a lot of decision making to do.
On Thursday it revealed it had received 31 proposals for its proposed new emergency back-up generator, adding to the 90 proposals it got in response to its call for a 100MW/100MWh battery storage installation – Australia’s biggest.
Apart from deciding on the next moves for the tender for the back-up generator and the battery storage, the government is also yet to make a call on two other key tenders – one for “dispatchable” renewables for 25 per cent of its own electricity needs, and another for a “new player” for 75 per cent of its requirements.
The 250MW gas plant is possible the most controversial aspect of the state government’s $550 million “energy plan” released last month after it had a gutful of what it called the mismanagement of the local energy market, and the refusal by at least one generator to supply capacity when needed, causing rolling blackouts.
The gas generator is the biggest ticket item of the plan, at an estimated $360 million, and because energy minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the plant to run “all the time to help stabilise the grid”, there has been speculation that it could include a battery storage element (to provide the inertia but avoid fuel costs).
“There’s been interest from a dozen countries, including Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“We’ve been encouraged by the strong response from across the country and around the world,” premier Jay Weatherill said in the joint statement. “Our plan is all about self-sufficiency. It’s about South Australia standing on its own two feet.”
The government says the energy plan is designed to lower prices, improve reliability and ensure more of the State’s power is sourced, generated and controlled in South Australia.
The government says it is “evaluating” the response to the battery storage and gas plant tenders, and is also “shortlisting” candidates for its bigger government tender on electricity needs.
However, it has previously indicated that it had three shortlisted candidates, one of which is presumed, or at least hoped by its supporters, of being the proposed 110MW solar tower and storage plant in Port Augusta.
The energy security target, which will mandate a certain percentage of retailer’s demand is sourced within the state by dispatchable generation, is due to come into force on July 1. Emergency powers allowing Koutsantonis to intervene in the market, without consulting parliament, will be legislated laster this month.