South Australia Reaffirms Its Love for Tesla Big Batteries

South Australia has reaffirmed its love for big Tesla battery projects with an AUD $5 million (USD $3.7 million) grant for a 25-megawatt, 52-megawatt-hour plant.

The funding, which is being matched by an equal amount from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will go towards the AUD $38 million (USD $28 million) cost of developing a Tesla Powerpack-based energy storage system for Infigen Energy.

The system will be built next to a 278.5-megawatt wind farm at Lake Bonney and connected to Australia’s National Electricity Market via a substation owned by ElectraNet, Infigen said in a press release. Construction is due to start in the coming weeks, the company said.

Infigen CEO Ross Rolfe, said that the battery plant would help his company expand its supply contracts from the Lake Bonney wind farm to additional commercial and industrial customers in South Australia. 

The plant will allow Infigen “to firm at least an additional 18 megawatts of power depending on the customer load profile,” said the company. 

It would also provide ancillary services, ensuring increased security and quality of supply and fast response services “as required,” Infigen said. 

The Australian Financial Review reported that Infigen had looked at various options to firm up wind generation, including pumped hydro and gas, before settling on battery technology. 

The Infigen project could become Australia’s second-largest battery system, after the 129-megawatt-hour Hornsdale Power Reserve, unless it is overtaken by plans for a 120-megawatt, 140-megawatt-hour Tesla plant in the same region.

But it is only one of several big battery projects announced in South Australia. In February, for example, Tilt Renewables unveiled plans for a 21-megawatt, 26-megawatt-hour battery system attached to a solar plant and wind farm in Snowtown.

The project would be supported with a AUD $7.1 million (USD $5.2 million) government grant, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, and would be accompanied by a 300-megawatt, 1.35-gigawatt-hour pumped hydro storage project. 

Tilt Renewables CEO Deion Campbell said the project would be the largest co-located wind, solar and battery plant in the country.

Also in South Australia, the electricity transmission company ElectraNet was due this July to have installed a 30-megawatt, 8-megawatt-hour battery system at its Dalrymple substation, near Stansbury in the state’s Yorke Peninsula region. The project is part funded by ARENA.

The system will work with local utility AGL’s 90-megawatt Wattle Point Wind Farm and rooftop solar PV to provide up to two hours of backup power in the event of any interruption to supply from the grid, according to ElectraNet, as well as providing fast frequency response services. 

South Australia’s continuing investments in big battery projects seem to indicate that concerns over Hornsdale’s impact on the state’s energy market may have been overblown.

They should also dispel worries that a change in local government earlier this year might have affected appetite for energy storage investments. In March elections, the Australian Labor Party was thrown out after sixteen years in power.

It was replaced by the center-right Liberal Party of Australia, which under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott took a downbeat stance on renewables.

However, in an interview published in RenewEconomy in May, South Australian energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan pledged to continue supporting the state’s move towards green energy.

“We are going to take the very best of what the former government had to offer in this space, we’re going to reject the mistakes that they made, and improve on what they had to offer,” he said.    

Javier Cavada Camino, president of energy solutions at Wärtsilä, said decreasing renewable energy pricing was making it harder for the South Australian leadership to take a stance against renewables. “It’s unstoppable,” he said.  

But Simon Hackett, technology evangelist at the Australian flow battery maker Redflow, told GTM it was important to make sure a focus on lithium-ion did not exclude other energy storage technologies.

“A primary aspect of government policy in the energy storage realm must be that government support programs are structured in a technology-neutral manner, to ensure the deployment of the most appropriate technology in each of the sectors in which it is applied,” he said.

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Read more: greentechmedia.com

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