Securing our energy
Building more affordable and reliable power
The launch of the $50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund in November 2018 is the latest in a suite of energy initiatives that have been announced by the state government to increase security of supply and reduce prices of electricity for South Australians.
The fund is designed to incentivise and accelerate the deployment of storage technology into the grid and targets projects that seek to address cost impacts on the state’s power system.
The fund is technology neutral. Eligible projects must benefit the state by addressing the challenges that have driven up electricity prices in South Australia. For example, projects could boost the reliability of our network during peak periods or increase the security of supply at the fringe of our grid.
The state government has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government agency the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), with a view to coordinating the assessment of projects that may be eligible for joint funding under ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program.
Rapid change is occurring across Australia’s entire energy system. The National Electricity Market in which we operate supplies 80% of Australia’s electricity consumers, meeting the needs of 19 million end-user consumers. The changes at every level of the grid have been phenomenal, be that the change of technology – systems in transmission, through to distribution markets.
Overall electricity generation in South Australia is led by gas powered generation, followed by wind farm and rooftop solar. We have one of the world’s highest representations of renewable energy with close to 50% renewables. While imports to South Australia have been growing over the past nine years, in 2018 the trend was reversed, and South Australia was a net exporter. The key drivers have been our world-class wind and solar resources, relatively sparse population and lots of land availability on top of long-range policy.
The state government is working to harness renewable energy to push prices down, improve reliability and achieve cleaner and greener energy.
With the high adoption of renewables, redressing system strength is a priority in our reforms. System strength provides the buffer against disturbances, and removes some of the extremes in peakiness.
Some of the programs to date include:
- The Home Battery Scheme launched in October 2018. The aim is for 40,000 South Australian households to install home battery storage system by accessing $100 million in state government subsidies and $100 million in finance provided by the Commonwealth Clean Energy Finance Corporation. In the first nine weeks of the scheme priority has been given to system providers who commit to manufacture or assemble battery storage units in South Australia. This priority period has been a key factor in attracting international battery storage companies Sonnen, AlphaESS and Eguana to assemble their batteries in South Australia.
- The Demand Management Trials Program is allocating $11 million of funding towards activities aimed at advancing the use of demand response and distributed energy resources to benefit both customers and the grid.
- Tesla with support from the South Australian Government is developing a network of up to 50,000 home solar PV and Powerwall battery systems across South Australia – all working together to form the world's largest virtual power plant. The first phase has connected 100 South Australian Housing Trust homes, the second phase, starting in December 2018 will involve a further 1,000 households. Subject to the success of the trials, program financing, and the satisfaction of both Tesla and the government in the final program design, the full program could be rolled out to 24,000 more public housing properties and 25,000 private properties from mid-2019. At full capacity the plant could provide approximately 250 MW of dispatchable electricity and 650 MWh of storage capacity to the state.
Other actions the government is pursuing include:
- Pushing on with plans for interconnection between our grid and the eastern seaboard, having created interconnector funds to enable early works and detailed site selection.
- Maintaining standby emergency generators of some 276 MW at the ready for demand surges going into the peak of summer.
- Working constructively with all states through COAG’s Energy Council to progress national reform agendas aimed at improving the National Electricity Market as well as the gas sector. South Australia is the lead jurisdiction.
– December 2018