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.
Tilt Renewables will construct another big battery in the mid-North & solar array & a new pumped hydro power plant in the Highbury quarry. It could be the first Hydro scheme in 40yrs! More renewables delivering self-sufficiency and cheaper power for SA using our Renewable Fund. pic.twitter.com/ZRhuyAsXHD
— Tom Koutsantonis (@TKoutsantonisMP) February 7, 2018
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.