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SA super-charges energy transition with a new plan

After over a decade of consistent policy support for wind and solar power, today South Australia - one of Australia’s (and the world’s) leading states for renewable electricity - outlined the next steps it will take in transitioning to a reliable, low cost, low emissions power supply.

In response to recent challenges to electricity supply in South Australia, the government has released its new Energy Plan. The plan outlines a suite of measures designed to ensure the state’s power supplies are secure as it continues to lead on renewable energy and next generation technologies such as battery storage, and will increase the state’s self-reliance for power.

The Plan in a Nutshell

New measures outlined in the plan include:

  • A new $150 million Renewable Technology Fund offering $75 million in grants and $75 million in loans to eligible projects.
  • Plans to build Australia’s largest (100MW capacity) grid-connected battery to store renewable energy and improve energy security as wind and solar generation increases.
  • A new energy security target to encourage more locally built synchronous generation such as solar thermal. Power plants, which generate electricity via large rotating steam or water turbines, are sometimes called synchronous generators. While gas power plants are synchronous generators; so too are solar thermal, hydropower, and biomass power plants. The energy security target is designed to transition to an Emissions Intensity Scheme or other future national policy for energy and climate.
  • Legislation to enable the state government to protect the state’s best interests in the electricity market.

A bit more detail

The plan also includes a proposal to build a new government-owned 250MW gas plant to operate under strictly limited “emergency” circumstances, and to encourage gas exploration for local use. As outlined in our submission to the Finkel Review, increased reliance on gas is not the solution to escalating power emissions and costs.

Significantly the South Australian government plans to tender for and build at least 100MW of battery storage before next summer. This will enable storage of renewable power at times of high wind and solar generation which will then be available for use at key times, reducing the need for load shedding in heatwaves, and improving grid stability.

Battery storage is one of a number of energy storage technologies – which also include pumped hydro, heat storage, flywheels, fuel cells, compressed air. These technologies can make our electricity grid more resilient as the electricity grid transitions to a low emissions future.

Pairing energy storage together with a range of renewable energy sources can provide a secure, dependable electricity system that meets demand for electricity, technical requirements for grid stability enabling it to overcome disruptions and is in keeping with the transition needed to meet Paris Agreement targets.

What’s our view?

Australia's energy system is ageing, inefficient, polluting and is not coping as extreme weather events worsen. A significant increase in battery storage would build resilience into the South Australian grid.

Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel has described energy storage as “one of the big opportunities” for Australia, and has highlighted the potential for local research and development, manufacturing as well as job creation in service delivery.

The new South Australian energy plan reinforces SA’s commitment to transitioning to an energy system fit for the 21st century.

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Banner Image: Shutterstock

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