South Australia unveils another big battery, this time with solar | RenewEconomy

South Australia unveils another big battery, this time with solar

Tilt Renewables to build another SA big battery, this time next to new solar farm and the existing Snowtown wind farm. It is also looking at a 300MW/1350MWh pumped hydro project in the foothills near Adelaide.


The South Australia government has announced plans for another “big battery”, this time to be installed next to a new solar farm to be constructed by the listed developer Tilt Renewables.

The 44MW solar farm will be accompanied by a 21MW/26MWh battery storage system and will be built next to the big Snowtown wind farm in the state’s mid-north.

It will be the fourth confirmed battery storage installation in the state, following the already complete Tesla big battery next to the Hornsdale wind farm, the 10MW/10MWh battery to be built next to the Lincoln Gap wind farm, and the 30MW/8MWh battery being installed next to the Wattle Point wind farm.

It also adds to the pipeline of confirmed solar farms, boosting the state’s  local generation in daylight hours, with the 220MW Bungala solar farm under construction, along with the 100MW Tailem Bend project, big plans by DP Energy and the Whyalla Steelworks, and several smaller projects.

Tilt Renewables also announced plans  for a huge 300MW, 1350MWh pumped hydro energy storage project to be constructed in the disused Highbury quarry near Adelaide.

It, too, joins a queue of pumped hydro projects proposed at Cultana by EnergyAustralia, another in a disused iron ore mine near Whyalla by Sanjeev Gupta’s SIMEC ZEN, and other projects on the Spencer Gulf.

It also continues a flurry of pre-election announcements by the state Labor government, following its news of the world’s biggest virtual power plant, also to be built by Tesla, earlier this week.

The $90 million solar and battery storage project will receive a $7.125 million grant from the state government’s Renewable Technology Fund (also funding the VPP), and the whole will create about 200 jobs during construction.

The solar farm will connect into the grid next to the existing Snowtown Stage 1 Wind Farm substation, part of three wind farms with total capacity of 370MW.


“More renewable energy means cheaper power for South Australians,” energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said in a statement.

“This planned new solar and battery farm in the mid-North and pumped hydro power plant in Highbury will add a huge amount of additional competition to our system.

“Storage of renewable energy is the future and once again we are seeing South Australia lead the world in the development of a broad range of storage technology.”

Tilt Renewables CEO Deion Campbell says the solar and storage additions to the Snowtown wind facilities would allow Tilt to better match daily electricity demands, with the battery reducing the effect of short term variability from solar and wind.

“When complete, the new infrastructure at Snowtown will be part of the biggest co-located wind, solar and battery facility in Australasia,” he said. (Although it may be overtaken one day by Windlab’s Kennedy  Energy Park in Queensland, or DP Energy’s wind and solar and storage project near Port Augusta).

“Storage has always been a key component of an electricity system and pumped hydro allows renewable electricity to be stored and used when required, without introducing carbon into the equation.”

The decommissioned quarry at Highbury (illustrated above) is located in the foothills 14km north east of the Adelaide CBD  and is currently owned by project partner Holcim Australia. There is a 110m drop between a pit from the quarry, and a pit from a sand quarry down below.

Tilt says the site offers a number of attributes that make it ideal for a pumped hydro development, including existing reservoir and road infrastructure, and a straight forward connection to the grid.

Campbell described the announcement as a “pretty big day for the company”, and said the battery and pumped hydro facilities will be complimentary – with the battery responding in milliseconds and the pumped hydro in minutes, but with greater storage.

“At Snowtown (a 370MW wind complex) we have got wind regime that is dominated by evening peak,” he told RenewEconomy. “We believe that the 44MW solar farm will allow us to smooth that low daytime wind output, utiliise that tranmission asset higher than it currently is.

Campbell said Tilt’s battery will operate differently than Hornsdale’s Tesla big battery and will focus on time shifting wind and solar output, and boosting the complex’s “firm” capacity.

Campbell said that the economics of battery storage was still a “bit hard”, and the $7 million funding would help make it work and provide the R&D component, so that Tilt can learn to get the control systems working well.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” he said.

“We believe we can make an economic proposition out of it(the combination of solar and storage, with the existing wind farm) in the current market. We wouldn’t be bothering if it was not a good option for our shareholders.”

He said one R&D turbine in Snowtown, currently forced to spill often by the market operator, would now be able to spill directly into the battery.

Campbell also said the pumped hydro, which is yet to get planning approval, and would not be online before 2021, could help make the case for another of the company’s big projects in South Australia, the 275MW Palmer wind project.

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  1. phillyc 3 years ago

    Awesome! Keep going South Aus!

  2. Sir Pete o Possums Reek 3 years ago

    300MW and 1350MWh now _thats_ a battery !
    Right next to the grid and the capital city.

  3. The Awul Truth 3 years ago

    Its kind of amazing how public markets investors seem to assume that the pricing power / commanding heights of Origin and AGL are going to last forever. If enough of this storage goes in the pricing power of gas generators is going to evaporate pretty quickly.

  4. Sandra 3 years ago

    SA is the leader in this country. Well done Jay Weatherll and the SA Labor government.

    • Robert Westinghouse 3 years ago

      While there are LNP governments anything good from a Labour government is seen as bad – I see the LNP as childish… I want to move to SA

  5. neroden 3 years ago

    PLEASE RE-ELECT JAY! I’m not Australian so I can’t do anything, but really, really, he’s a rock star, he’s the greatest government leader in the world right now, please do what you can to re-elect him!

    • john 3 years ago

      He possibly may get back in who knows in today’s world of politics.

    • Warwick Sands 3 years ago

      I live in NSW, the news coming out of South Australia makes me want to move

      • shane 3 years ago

        Im in NSW too, (as does Turnbull of course) , its shameful NSW has the worst record for renewables Nationally,

        • Joe 3 years ago

          NSW….no surprise here. I live in Sydney which in recent times has given us this mob….the Abbott and Two Tongues Turnbulll at Federal level and then the O’Farrell, the Baird and now the Berejiklian at State level.The common denominator is The COALition which never promotes or protects the environment as a top priority.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Make Jay prime minister of AU!
      At least he has a vision and a plan, already supported by action and not hollow words!

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        I second that! And you never know one day he could be PM.

  6. john 3 years ago

    All they need is about 10 more this size and that should take a large slice of the load.
    ATM the widget is showing load of 2250 MW so 10 more at 350 MW should do the trick that is for storage now hookup a larger amount of RE supply and the cost curve should go down especially if built at high usage points.

    • Tom 3 years ago

      Was it sunny while the load was 2250MW? They wouldn’t have needed any storage at the peak if 2250MW of PV was installed, which will be soon. Only a few hours’ worth in the evening.

      If they get demand management right (hundreds of thousands of hot water services will all turn on together at 11pm tonight) they will need even less.

      • Michael Murray 3 years ago

        Right now demand is 2500 MW, wind is 380 MW, gas 1900 MW, liquid fuel 100, solar pv 120 MW, battery 30 MW, 660 MW coming from the east coast over the interconnector. It’s around 7 pm and 36 deg.

        More pumped hydro definitely needed.

        • Tom 3 years ago

          No argument that more storage is needed – obviously there is very little so far, but probably not as much more as one might think.

          Regarding the 120MW solar PV at 7pm last night – this is being generated from around 800MW of installed PV capacity (ie, CF of around 15%). Just about all this capacity is rooftop PV and is tilted to face north, so would be expected to be hopeless when the sun is low in the western sky.

          If SA had significant north-south single axis tracking PV, at this time it would have been generating at a capacity factor of close to 100%. ie, if they had 800MW of installed SAT it would have probably been generating >600MW rather than 120MW like rooftop PV.

          Of course, the sun suddenly goes down soon after this. “Smart” demand management could potentially over-cool residential houses for the period leading up to sunset, and then under-cool them for a couple of hours afterward – for some sort of reward, even without batteries.

          Heating hot water services during maximum base-cost generation rather than at 11pm each night is another no-brainer.

          Of course, 90% renewable is much easier than 100% renewable. The amount of storage required for that last 10% will be a lot.

          Mind you – I wonder whether the molten silicon silos from 1414 Degrees (still in the development stage) might be part of the solution. Even though they’re only 50% efficient (ie, it “costs” 1 kWh for every 1 kWh regenerated), they can store a lot of energy relatively cheaply, have very small energy losses when hot but not being used, and would not be used that often.

          For instance, a large grain silo might be 30m diameter and 40m high, ie, 28,000 cubic metres. A single silo this size full of molten silicon would theoretically store 32,000MWh of latent energy of crystallisation. Even if it was 50% efficient and it was only used until the silicon was 50% solidified, it could still regenerate 8000MWh of electricity.

          It wouldn’t take many of these modules to backup the final 10% of SA’s energy requirements.

          • Michael Murray 3 years ago

            That’s a really interesting idea. I haven’t been following the silicon storage much. Mind you if we got Australia’s power generation to 90% renewable and 10% gas we would probably deserve a pat on the back !

      • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

        With all the residential solar SA has, they should have moved the ‘off peak’ water heating from 11pm to 11am already…

        • Tom 3 years ago

          Absolutely. The only problem is – on really hot days, the demand trough is still overnight.

          Even better would be to have remotely controlled hot water switches, and using weather forecasts announce the previous day on a website what hours peoples’ hot water services will be heating the following day.

  7. ozmq 3 years ago

    As a demonstration of what can be done, the pumped hydro proposal seems perfect. Surely it can be done before 2021?

    • Joe 3 years ago

      At least it will be done looooong before Two Tongue Turnbull’s wet dream…Snowy 2.0

      • ozmq 3 years ago

        True. But in this first instance, the sooner the better, before public money gets committed to Snowy 2.0.

  8. David Mitchell 3 years ago

    Very pleased the Highbury quarry is in the frame. I’ve been looking at it every time I fly into Adelaide wondering if it was pumped hydro potential.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      I am concerned that due to its proximity to suburbia the NIMBYs will throw up some roadblocks.

      • BushAxe 3 years ago

        Dunno what they are going to complain about -it’s an old industrial site full of pits and piles of dirt/rocks. Part of the plan is to landscape the bottom lake for public use, considering its currently fenced off its a win for community space.

        • Rod 3 years ago

          I must say, I’ve never visited a hydro plant but the turbines must make some noise.
          I hope you are right and it gets quick approval.

          • GlennM 3 years ago

            I have been in the turbine room of a very large hydro plant, and yes very noisy. But outside the noise is non existent.

      • mick 3 years ago

        car park ice cream kiosk 5 dollar entry no worries

      • Michael Murray 3 years ago

        Not much residential up there I don’t think.,138.7380015,2415m/data=!3m1!1e3

        • Rod 3 years ago

          Why didn’t I think of “googling” it. Thanks, I had assumed it was further down the hill.

  9. Joe 3 years ago

    Every week a new and exciting announcement from Premier Jay and SA. Getting on with the business and showing the rest of the country how it can be done if there is the will and LEADERSHIP.

    • Kate 3 years ago

      So refreshing to see not just words but action, and so quickly, from our pollies 🙂

  10. Thucydides 3 years ago

    17 March 2018 – the first renewable energy election.

    • Brunel 3 years ago

      That was the 2010 one and it was a draw.

      • Kate 3 years ago

        I dunno. What with regular reports of extreme weather events, hotter annual temperatures, and the impact on the great barrier reef, I think climate change might be a concern more present in people’s minds now. Or at least I hope that’s the case.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          Well let’s hope it’s the case Kate, because I for one don’t want to live in Noddy Land no more than we have. No future in it!

  11. solarguy 3 years ago

    SA should be renamed Sexy Australia………………. they give us something new to wank over every day!

    • Kevfromspace 3 years ago

      Your language is always very creepy, dude.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Nah, more like Bar Room humour in this case………………don’t take life too seriously dude…….. learn to laugh a little.

    • Nick Kemp 3 years ago

      I’m laughing a lot but wondering if there is an image burnt in that I will be unable to forget

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Glad I could be of service to your funny bone Nick, but if some image is burnt in, for Christ’s sake don’t think of me at the same time. LOL.

  12. stalga 3 years ago

    Sounds like another interconnector will be needed to export excess generation from SA before too long.

    • Tom 3 years ago

      Maybe. Or maybe they’ll store it first and export it smoothly over the existing transmission infrastructure all day and all night.

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        A big battery can be installed in Vic too – thus avoiding the transmission losses.

    • Kate 3 years ago

      Wasn’t that something that Jay W and Tom K mentioned when they first released their energy policy plan last year – turning SA into an energy exporter?

      • stalga 3 years ago

        Your memory is better than mine, I remember now. Cutting edge stuff, and even the SA Libs area talking up storage trials.

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Right you are Kate!

  13. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Guess people like ZEN are probably looking at it but would like to see Tom Koutsantonis in South Australia and Shane Rattenbury in the ACT include the ViZn technology in what is proposed.

  14. Peter 3 years ago

    This can not come soon enough. Today we had more dodgy bidding behaviour with the 5 min price yo-yoing from $200 to $13000 MWh. The state economy is being held to ransom by the current generators and that won’t help Jay get re-elected. The NEM is not an efficient market. It may have been once, but not any more.

  15. Brunel 3 years ago

    Why not install the battery at the point of use to avoid transmission losses?

    ie, Adelaide CBD.

    Put the solar farm where it is sunny and the battery on the edge of Adelaide and another in the CBD.

    • GlennM 3 years ago

      That does not change the transmission losses ? either from the solar far to the battery or from the battery to the CBD. Or have I missed something ?

        • GlennM 3 years ago

          I agree that it should be there…but that does not decrease the transmission losses. The power generated at the solar farm has losses when transmitted to the battery. This just changes when the losses occur, it does not decrease them

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            Ah, I get your point now.

            Well, it is still cheaper to make electrons than it is to store them. And installing the battery at the point of use – such as a hospital – means that even if transmission lines fall, you still get electricity for a few hours instead of having an abrupt power cut.

            The surgery room in Royal Adelaide Hospital was without power for 20 minutes yesterday:

          • Michael Murray 3 years ago

            Yes but not due to any problems with supply

            It said maintenance crews were testing a generator and the power outage happened because a software failure prevented the affected section of the hospital from being switched back from generator to mains power.

            Why can’t the test at 1.00 am in the morning instead of when the hospital is busy.?

          • Phil 3 years ago

            Oh dear we used to do that at 5.00am so you never lost your TV transmission or commercials.

            I guess actual people are less important

            It does involve an early start though which can be challenging in winter. But as dedicated engineers we didn’t mind a small sacrifice for the common good.

      • itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

        It increases the losses, since you have to send out the electricity required to charge the battery over the transmission lines, which is more than the battery will deliver when it discharges.

    • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

      It’s about transmission costs. Keeping the battery onsite, behind the meter, no dramas. The second you start transacting MW over the grid, the costs come.

      If the battery is onsite, charge transmission is free. Discharge to grid still costs. With an off site battery you have to pay transmission costs on charge and discharge.

      The grid wasn’t build for efficiency, it was built for ease of billing. The charged cost of transmission doesn’t change if you transfer across the street or across the country.

      • Brunel 3 years ago

        That does not seem to be an issue when houses export electrons to the grid.

        And there is no across the country grid. WA and SA are not connected.

        I think NSW and SA are not connected either.

        • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

          The entire east coast is connected. So across from the South of Tasmania to the North of Cooktown.

          It definitely is an issue when houses export electrons to the grid. The second those electrons leave your property, they are regulated and paid for under the NEM rules. That means a license to sell, approvals to transmit, and money to the distributor.

          It’s when you reach commercial scale of kW that the ‘Demand’ charges start rolling in, and you are paying more for the peak kW than you are for the energy transacted.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            “you are paying more for the peak kW than you are for the energy transacted.”

            How much more?

            Not sure if your reason makes it a bad idea to install a battery at the point of use – ie Royal Adelaide Hospital – instead of a big battery on the other side of the fragile low-capacity interconnector.

          • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

            These batteries are much larger than a single user, except for say a smelter.

            If you are advocating for much smaller batteries, distributed around the country, sized appropriately for on site loads and matched with local on site generation. Then I am right there with you, and in fact have made it my career and livelihood.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            Onsite generation using what?

          • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

            I have seen demand charges, (eg grid access costs) make up 70% of the bill.

            This is for commercial customers who might be paying 6c / kWh.

          • Brunel 3 years ago

            Connection charges are $1/day.

          • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

            As long as you keep demand or supply under 415V and 63A, sure.

          • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

            All the more reason for them to install solar and batteries. Use both to chop the head off the ‘peak’ demand charging.

          • Guy Stewart 3 years ago

            Totally agree Greg. We are seeing a surge of demand for smaller batteries, distributed around the country, sized appropriately for on site loads and matched with local on site generation.

  16. mick 3 years ago

    apparently xenophon is talking to prof garnaut about formulating energy policy could be an a good thing?

    • Greg Hudson 3 years ago

      zenophobe is apparently anti solar and especially anti wind. Don’t know why though…

      • mick 3 years ago

        yep i woundnt know how it feels about solar given that he negotiated the solar thermal plant but he definately was on the infrasound enquiry and seemed pretty useless there

  17. itdoesntaddup 3 years ago

    Kidston is supposedly A$330m for 250MW/2GWh also utilising abandoned quarries.

    I wonder how this Highbury project compares on cost. It’s only 4.5 hours of storage vs 8, with a bit more generation/pumping.

    Meanwhile, interesting to note that the battery only makes sense if it is subsidised according to Tilt.

  18. Nick Kemp 3 years ago

    I love this – Despite the federal govt being a bunch of coal loving Luddites the rest of the country is just ignoring them and getting on with it. I’m wondering if Josh and co will want to magically appear in hi-vis and hard hats on opening day for another dressing down by Jay

  19. Michael Murray 3 years ago

    Fly through of the quarry here.

    That would be amazing. 1350 MWh !

  20. Ian 3 years ago

    South Australia no longer has a coal electricity generator, it relies heavily on gas, the which is apparently more profitable to export. They really don’t have too many choices. Once built, wind and solar crowd out the fossil fueled generators, relegating them to standby plant, their only hope of remaining viable is 1. to demand no further competition aka coalition support, 2. Demand large capacity payments like plants in WA, 3. Bid ridiculously high when supply is constrained. 4. In the case of gas supply , insist on contracts to supply – similar to plants in Tasmania – if the plants are not run, too bad, the gas still needs to be paid for, even if its not used.

    The HPR seems to be kicking the stool from under gas in point 3, by taking away those horrible price signals. The suppliers of gas to SA have better markets to pursue and are not fighting back against renewables, wind and solar farms are sprouting up in SA and are threatening to install firming batteries.

    It seems to me that under Jay Weatherill’s command, the die has been cast, the switch is toggling and any delay or impeding of this change will result in either a very expensive hybrid ff/renewables system or an unreliable, half-baked renewables system with insufficient generating capacity or insufficient storage.

    Jay can not afford to stop this momentum, but must accelerate it before he leaves his office. Hopefully he will achieve this before the election. The way to do this is approve wind and solar projects, encourage these to be prepared for battery firming capacity, approve selected pumped hydro projects, get the VPP going quickly and make any attempt to stop this political suicide. This he has done, ✅.

  21. Marg1 3 years ago

    Go Jay, you are a legend! Hope you win the election, we need more like you in politics.

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