South Australia is going to need its battery storage this summer

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South Australian consumers will be hoping that the state government succeeds in getting its proposed 100MW of battery storage in place this summer, after the Australian Energy Market Operator warned it would be critical in dealing with extreme heat events.

In the first of a new Energy Supply Outlook publication, the AEMO says all states should meet their reliability standards this coming summer, but warns of “a risk of electricity supply falling short of demand, especially in extreme conditions”.

The most exposed were South Australia and Victoria, as well as New South Wales. Both South Australia and NSW experienced enforced “load shedding” in last summer’s heatwave.

AEMO says the greatest risk of load shedding will occur on extremely hot summer afternoons and evenings, and the combination of low wind and solar output, unexpected interruptions to coal or gas generation, or there are network issues.

In South Australia, it says, all existing generation capacity must be available and operating in such events, including the Pelican Point gas station at full service, which sat idle in February’s load shedding, as well as the new battery storage and diesel generation contracted for by the government must be available as planned.

“The power system is changing, and this latest analysis indicates there will be challenges that will need to be managed proactively on days of extreme conditions to maintain secure, reliable and affordable energy to Australian consumers,” said AEMO Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman.

aemo short

This graph shows the importance of battery storage installations which are due in both South Australia and Victoria by the coming summer. In S.A, it brings the standard below the 0.002 per cent reliability standard.

South Australia is currently awaiting final bids from shortlisted candidates for its tender for 100MW and 100MWh  of battery storage, although AEMO put this at 200MWh of storage. Victoria is also tendering for 40MW and up to 100MWh of battery storage in two locations in the west of the state.

Other measures and investments that could help alleviate problems this summer include the 500MW of wind and solar projects that will come online across the country, and the 200MW of temporary diesel generation in South Australia, along with 100MW of demand management being procured by AEMO itself.

It is also working to ensure that generators have enough fuel – water for hydro plants, coal for coal generators and gas for gas generators. It may seem obvious, but each of these types of generation have found themselves short of their crucial fuel source at various times in the past two summers.

AEMO says the planned return of three mothballed gas fired generators (Tamar, Swanbank and) should ease supply, but in the worse case coal could be in short supply in NSW, and sufficient gas may not be available.

The gas issue is the most problematic, but AEMO says that it is working with the LNG industry to ensure supplies, or at least provide some visibility on supply.

Zibelman wants to introduce a smarter way of dealing with demand peaks and supply shortages, focusing on the demand side of the equation (battery storage, demand management) rather than the traditional approach of building new capacity.

But this summer appears a matter of grabbing whatever capacity or program that can be obtained, including diesel gen-sets, mothballed gas plants, new battery storage, and incentives for large and small users to cut demand at critical times.

 aemo wind solar farm pipleine
The report also notes that a total 500MW of new wind and solar generation will come on line by this summer, anda  further 880MW by the following summer. About one third will be in South Australia and Victoria, with the rest in Queensland and NSW.
A further 392MW was confirmed since the completion of its assessment.
“Notably, these initiatives are largely proposed without associated battery storage,” it says,  noting the battery storage initiatives in South Australia and Victoria. Queensland is also looking at storage as part of a newly announced 400MW renewable energy tender.
“New renewable generation will contribute much more to reliability if it can consistently supply energy at the critical peak demand times, typically in late afternoon or early evening of summer, irrespective of solar or wind conditions.
“This highlights a development need for battery storage and/or DSP to be paired with new renewable generation proposals to maximise its potential benefit to the power system.”


  • coreidae

    SA only has 4 – 5 months to get the batteries installed!!

    • Brunel

      Yep. I wonder if Tesla is a shoe in with the U$250/kWh price that Musk tweeted in 2015.

      • coreidae

        Who knows? There’s a tender still open. It’s a lot of complex and difficult work to push through in a short time frame, also because there is a State election here on 20 March 2018 and the ALP will be obviously keen to ensure this is implemented smoothly to prevent blackouts / load shedding.

        • Hettie

          If Musk was confident he could have batteries up and running in 100 days, there is heaps of time if the SA Gov’t cuts the nonsense and places an order. Batteries functioning by Christmas, voters happy, election won.

          • coreidae

            I think the SA ALP has problems other than power supply, such as management of psychiatric facilities, which will lose it the election. I hope they do get the battery system in though.

  • john

    We have federal politicians bleating to build a new coal fired generator in Queensland.
    The claim is that this will be the cheapest form of power to install.
    Just why they make up this kind of story is beyond me as every new bid proves that RE and coupled with storage is proving a cheaper option.
    The largest number of distributed RE generators connected to the grid the more efficient is the delivery of power just remember the power loss in transmission that is being mitigated for a start this has to be north of 7%.
    SA has said they intend to install back up before the January February time frame.

    • Patrick Comerford

      Hard to imagine why you can’t understand why the coalition government would “make up this kind of story” it’s perfectly obvious they are carrying out the instructions of their constituency the fossil fuel industry who has bought and paid for them.

      • Tom

        And looking after their employment as “consultants” when they leave politics.

    • Chris Fraser

      I couldn’t understand either. I had to study famous propagandists through time – but I don’t want to say their name and provoke Godwin’s Law.

      • Hettie

        Godwin is unnecessary in this argument. The only answer that makes any sense is corruption. Lots and lots of money.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Seems to me that “cheapest” isn’t the real issue right now. Summer is coming, what can they get up and running in time? New coal plants take too long.

  • Ray Miller

    The air conditioning industry has said their equipment makes up 50% of the peak load pumping out massive quantities of heat from our buildings during extremes of summer temperatures. The Finkel report quotes the heat buildup in buildings after 3-4 days causes extra loading on the NEM as in SA last summer.
    So if 50% of our peak demand which risks pushing the NEM into “insecure operation” (chapter 1 1.1 Resilience on the NEM), would not it be the smart thing to do to solve the underlying problem of excessive and dangerous heat in our buildings by preventing the entry? We may at the same time make our buildings more resilient to heat stress and decrease the morbidity rate of the occupants. We might also reduce the our energy costs, lower emissions and reduce the NEM peak demand increasing reliability. Our air conditioning (heat pumps) become grossly inefficient during extremes of heat, further adding to insecurity and risks to our population.
    Why are we still building housing which is clearly not fit for purpose and hazardous in heatwaves? The BoM Australian temperature data is showing increasing and more extreme temperatures with extended duration, so the problem is not going away only getting worse.
    Improving the heatwave resilience of our new and existing buildings would pay massive dividends, now is the time for action in this area, then we would have less need to shovel more coal into the furnace.

    • Chris Fraser

      NSW is increasing its new dwelling (and major extensions) thermal comfort minimum ratings. In practice I think this will mean fewer unshaded dwellings made from brick and stone in order to permit the afternoon heat to dissipate faster in the evenings. The early evening energy consumption is crucial as the solar is not working as good then.

      • Brunel

        Should mandate that 10% of new houses in AUS must have white roofs.

        Dark roof tiles close to the equator are silly.

        • Hettie

          White roofs for sure. Interior up to 5C cooler in summer, but also winter heat loss is reduced. White roofs en masse also go some way towards counteracting the loss of the albedo effect as polar ice melts. That is, they reflect heat from the sun back into space.
          Should be mandatory, everywhere, unless installing a living green roof.

          • Brunel

            But then all roofs would be white.

            Quite a disgrace that we have been watching test cricket for decades but did not ask for 10% of roofs in QLD to be white.

            A 100% mandate would be communist.

          • Hettie

            Why would a white roofs requirement be any more communist than any other building regulation?
            The colour makes no difference to the cost, unlike reqirementts for insulation, water tanks, smoke alarms….
            It does produce a saving on heating and cooling costs, a reduction in energy use and a slight direct reduction in global warming. What’s not to love?

          • Brunel

            How would it cut the cost of heating?

            Insulation is not seen.

            Water tanks can be any colour and should not be required in 100% of houses either.

            15% of new roofs in AUS to be white = a reasonable compromise.

          • Hettie

            White roofs reflect the heat of the sun but also reduce the rate at which heat from a house is lost to a colder outside environment. Like aluminum foil but much less efficient.
            In summer the result can be an inside temperature as much as five degrees C cooler than in a comparable house with a dark or black roof.
            I don’t have figures for winter heat loss difference. Huge variation in winter temps around Australia.
            Even a well insulated house gains and loses heat through the roof. Any means to modify those gains and losses will reduce energy bills and increase comfort levels for those inside.

          • Brunel

            Brand new houses in Vic are not required to have a rainwater tank.

            They should be required to have a grey water pipe.

            Should work out a mechanism to filter used to shower water and use that to flush toilets and then allow people to get whatever toilet they want instead of 4.5 Litre toilets that stink up the place.

          • Hettie

            Thank you so much for acknowleging my detailed reply to your query. NOT.

    • Rod

      A starting point would be to ban dark coloured roofing or at least educate the masses about this lunacy.
      Also, this simple gadget, or something more suited to our heat pumps, has the ability to improve heat pump cooling efficiency by 30% but I have never seen anything in Oz about them. I fitted several misters to mine ($5) and proved the 30% figure using my whole house energy meter.

      Sorry, missed Brunel’s post. I second that!

      • solarguy

        Yep the misting of the A/C condenser works a treat, do it on days above 35 degrees.

        • Rod

          Just imagine if every heat pump A/C in the country had one fitted.
          Summer peak AC consumption down by 30%.
          Sometimes the solutions to our problems are so simple.

    • Tom

      Ducted evaporative air-conditioning is a forgotten technology. It’s cheap to install, really cheap to run, and it is really really powerful – especially in Adelaide, except for about 3 days per summer. Perhaps not as effective on parts of the Eastern Seaboard, but I reckon it would be quite good anywhere west of Parramatta in Sydney and that’s over 5% of Australia’s population. Melbourne is another 15% of Australia’s population – it would be pretty effective there too.

      We’re building a house down in Tassie and putting ducted evaporative air-conditioning in. I’ll let the forum know in a couple of years time if we have to retrofit some split system RCACs. I doubt it.

      • Barri Mundee

        We live 150k east of Melbourne and have ducted evap cooling. It provides very good summer comfort at very low cost in electricity and water usage. We also increased ceiling insulation and retrofitted double glazing and often do not feel the need to turn on the cooler until well into the afternoon on a hot day. Since it usually cools off evenings in our region, we switch the system to vent, drawing in cool night air.

        Other benefits are fresh air constantly drawn into the house.

  • Ray Miller

    Building standards are so out of date, the NSW Basics scheme and the NATHERS system are based on computer modeling but like the Finkel modeling the building modelling has been using outdated temperature data in the climate files, as BoM has shown over the last decade the peak and average temperatures have risen in most of Australia. The resulting effect is inaccurate energy ratings in most climate zones, for some reason the new climate files have been prepared but not used in any current modeling. (As this would require more insulation and better design to meet the minimum rating as most designs are to the minimum.)
    The other issue is the basic assumptions used to determine the minimum energy standards was based on a cost benefit analysis of the cost of energy and insulation done some time ago, but of course energy costs are much lower now, NOT. Some very serious questions need to asked of the building industry and the regulation over-site departments which have let this situation stagnate for so long which has also had flow on implications into our peak demand especially in heat waves. Sadly Finkel failed to uncover the building problem.

  • Just_Chris

    I don’t know what everyone else’s electricity and gas bills have done this year but mine went through the roof and I switch every year. That price hike has lead to me doubling my efforts to find ways to save power. I am assuming this is being done by every business and household in the country right now. That, along with new solar and wind capacity coming online, I believe will make next summers problems less about supply and more about unpredictability. Unless it stops raining and we have a really dry 6 months I reckon next years “oh sh*t” moment is going to be related to a sharper than predicted drop in solar output and big lazy coal fired generators not being able to keep up. That or trump will manage to pick a fight between Iran and Saudi leading to shortages of diesel and a spikes in LNG. Especially if war in the Middle East combines with a cold northern hemisphere winter.

    • Rod

      With three retailers announcing increases here in SA of up to 18% I expect many will be looking a lot closer at energy use. I also expect rooftop solar installs will continue to ramp up with 5kWp the norm.
      We had one of those “oh sh*t” moments back in March (I think) Three of the TIPS B units tripped due to a substation fire and the resulting voltage drop tripped ALL grid connected inverters in the State. If this had happened 30 minutes earlier when the PV input was greater it would have been lights out again.
      The risk of this happening again is very real and should be a driver for more quick acting plant and or storage.

  • Ian Godfrey

    Best option, maximum PV panels that you can afford (preferably broadband single crystal types), and home battery storage – nickel iron batteries – non toxic, last forever practically immune to damage.
    get your house rewired onto by-type circuits.