South Australia pushes battery storage in government buildings

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South Australia looks to install battery storage in parliament house, museums and art galleries, and up to 150 other buildings including schools and railway stations, as it looks to become a leader in energy storage as well as wind and solar.

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South Australia is rapidly emerging as the leading state in battery storage, with the Labor government announcing a $1.1 million tender to install battery storage in several key government buildings, including parliament house and its flagship arts buildings in the North Terrace precinct.

In what is being billed as a first in Australia for a state government, tenders are being called for battery storage to be installed in up to nine government buildings that already have solar arrays, including Parliament House, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the state museum, the state library, a railway station and various schools.

The initiative follows that of the City of Adelaide last week, which became the first in local government group Australia to offer financial incentives to households and businesses to install battery storage systems. It will offer an incentive of up to $5,000 to homes, schools, businesses and community organisations to install battery storage.

sa parliament house

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says the battery storage initiative is linked with plans to make Adelaide the world’s “first” carbon neutral city, in an initiative that will include a “Green Zone” where electric and hybrid vehicles, along with driverless cars, will be the preferred form of transport and petrol cars restricted.

“Battery energy storage is an emerging global market, and storage systems offer particular benefits when combined with solar photovoltaics allowing for solar generation to be better matched to the building’s energy demands,” he said in a statement.

“With a high uptake of renewables in South Australia, including rooftop solar, South Australia is well positioned to be a strong ‘early market’ for battery storage systems.”

South Australia currently sources around 7 per cent of its energy demand from rooftop solar, and overall nearly 40 per cent from the combination of large-scale wind and small-scale solar.

The state is also looking to build Australia’s, and quite possibly the world’s, largest non-hydro energy storage installation at one of three locations to balance the output of its variable renewable sources. Within a decade, for instance, the state is forecast enough energy just from rooftop solar to meet its total grid demand on some days.

Hence the need for battery storage. Koutsantonis notes that the state government owns 150 buildings in the Adelaide CBD, many of these already with rooftop solar, and battery storage could help meet their demand profiles and cut energy costs.


“Through this exciting project, the State Government will be demonstrating how integrating battery storage with solar photovoltaics can deliver multiple benefits of greenhouse gas reduction, energy load management and energy cost reductions,” Koutsantonis said.

He said the North Terrace arts precinct sites offered a great opportunity to publicly showcase battery storage technology, and the public schools in the city could also show the community how solar photovoltaics and battery storage technologies can be combined to provide energy-smart solutions in smaller buildings.

The tender documents also note that the chosen buildings had attractive consumption profiles (including after-hours usage) to offer potential cost savings opportunities from battery storage.

The tender also calls for applicants to identify and prioritise any other SA government-owned sites in the Adelaide City Council area, with installed solar PV, that could offer attractive locations to reduce energy costs by installation of battery storage systems.

The sites identified in the first round have solar systems ranging from 20kW – 30kW on parliament house and the three major arts building, 21kW on the Adelaide railway station, and arrays of 2.3kW to 15kW on various schools. (This list below does not include Sturt Street Community School with a 4.5kW solar array.

tender update

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16 Comments
  1. Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

    That is great news. I hope one day the Federal Governments will also discover that the 21st century has already arrived.

    • Stephen Gloor 4 years ago

      Wouldn’t hold your breath. That mob has not made it out of the thirties ….

  2. BsrKr11 4 years ago

    doesn’t say the technology under consideration

  3. Perry Chester 4 years ago

    Not sure if the sites they list above make any sense to have batteries added on. They’re relatively small solar systems and all the electricity generated would almost certainly get consumed on-site so no excess to charge up batteries. Even weekend (typically off business/school hours) base load on these buildings would consume all solar generation on-site. Why not stick the batteries on sites that have much larger solar systems with electricity being fed back into the grid that could instead be diverted to the batteries. Either that or stick more panels on these roofs.

  4. Paul Andrew 4 years ago

    Giles, do you have any idea about these buildings usage that you can provide?
    Their PV systems do seem small and an unlikely candidate for battery storage, perhaps they could consider just focusing on say 1 building to maximise it’s usage and efficiency and trial the system before rolling out to other buildings?
    I also recently saw a proposed hotel building to be built next to parliament house (on the western side). What are the implications for the parliament house PV array with regards to shading?

    • Giles 4 years ago

      Hi. For reasons known only to myself, i did not publish the full table with the usage of the buildings. It is there now. Go for it, number crunchers!

  5. Gerberaman 4 years ago

    Am I being too optimistic to believe that this decision has been thought about a bit more than that. To outright decide, without detailed usage data, that there isn’t going to be any spare power generated at these sites smacks of sour grapes. I guess you could be right, and whoever is organising this is a complete idiot. Maybe you two should offer your services as consultants. In the absence of any information to show that this is a bad decision, I think we should applaud it. Any additional battery storage in Australia must be a good thing, if only for R&D purposes. If you’re right, the storage can always be moved to another site at a later date. Anything is better than the Federal ‘nothing’!

    • Perry Chester 4 years ago

      I think this is a great initiative by the SA Govt – I only made that comment based on my experience with solar in my work – I’d be shocked (no pun intended) if more than 10% of the electricity generated off of these systems (about 150kW combined capacity) that was fed back into the grid working out to about 15kW which would equal about 20,000kWh per year, at 30 cents kWh that’s about $6,000yr in stored power – a 1 million dollar project to save $6,000yr??? I work in renewables and am the biggest proponent for it but when I see something that is bound to fail I will say something. If this project were to go ahead it would be a prime target for the anti-renewables to shoot down the entire concept.

      I’m sure those evaluating this project will reconsider and apply the batteries to sites that make sense on a ROI basis. This is probably just a preliminary list of sites anyway…

      • Perry Chester 4 years ago

        My bad, that would be repeated storage of power ($6,000 * number of days in a year) so the savings would be considerably more – still, they should pick the sites that are currently feeding the most electricity back into the grid to max savings.

        • Stuart Gordon 4 years ago

          You were right the first time Perry

          • Perry Chester 4 years ago

            Usage details there now, I wouldn’t imagine there’d be any excess electricity being fed back into the grid on any of those systems which translates into no solar generated electricity to charge the batteries.

            The other option would be to charge the batteries up with grid power at cheap off peak times and use it during the daytime.

            That would make good sense and save about $70,000 a year??

          • Giles 4 years ago

            This line from tender may indicated their thinking, though they do ask the tenderers to identify how and where savings can be made.

            “identifies, based on an analysis of load profiles, optimal long term energy cost saving opportunities (including reduced maximum demand tariff opportunities)”

  6. Eb 4 years ago

    The SA Govt subsidies its remote towns’ diesel generation bills by more than $7 million each year, surely investing in PV and batteries for these sites makes a lot more sense than Adelaide’s CBD.

    • Beat Odermatt 4 years ago

      I tend to agree with you. It would also help to provide emergency power in remote areas. It would not only be a good environmental move but could be life saving.

  7. nakedChimp 4 years ago

    uh.. I was expecting single systems in the 100-200kW range on those roofs, not ~150kW being the total?!?
    phew..

    • Ronald Brakels 4 years ago

      Tariffs for big electricity users can be complex and a significant portion of an electricity bill can depend upon their peak demand. Battery storage can reduce this and save money that way. The buildings may also require an Uninteruptible Power Supply and energy storage could fill this often expensive need. And the batteries can allow money to be made from electricity arbitage and by providing ancillary services to the grid. So under the right circumstances it is possible for battery storage to pay for itself even if a building doesn’t have any solar PV. But just what exactly the circumstances are, I don’t know.

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