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AES 2018 summary: bringing cleaner energy to South Australia

Posted on October 29th, 2018 in News

Australia is abundant in clean, renewable energy resources, but currently they make up very little of the national power grid.

Speaking at the 2018 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition, minister for energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan outlined his party’s approach to increase clean energy output for South Australia.

In his address, he cautioned that it wouldn’t be an instant change, but that there were plans to make the transition. He said, “It’s not a choice of whether to increase clean energy but how to do it, and without punishing consumers along the way. It is important to recognise that while we strive for a 100% renewables world, gas will play a necessary part in our generation for many years to come.”

“What we also know is that as the storage of renewable energy improves, and as more of it is installed, gas will become less necessary in our economy. I’m glad to confirm that there is continued strong interest in investment by the private sector in South Australia.”

 

Existing renewables in South Australia

With close to half of the state’s power coming from renewable sources, South Australia is leading the way in the country. This status was boosted late in 2017 when the Hornsdale wind farm (315MW) was completed and then in 2018 with the opening of SA’s largest solar PV farm at Port Augusta (220MW).

The Hornsdale Power Reserve boasts the largest lithium-ion battery in the world, which improves network security for South Australian energy consumers and has saved consumers tens of millions of dollars in FCAS charges since coming online.

South Australia is also a leader in residential solar, with almost one-third of homes in the state having panels on their roofs, and there are a number of government and commercial buildings with solar and energy storage around Adelaide.

 

Future projects

Although South Australia has already made a good start with renewable energy – van Holst Pellekaan says that nearly 40% of installed generation capacity in South Australia is wind-powered – there are plans to create even more renewable energy in the state.

Wind farms are under construction at Lincoln Gap (212MW) and Willogoleche (119MW) and more solar/CSP projects are in development at Aurora (150MW) and Tailem Bend (127MW).

Van Holst Pellekaan is happy with the development of renewable energy but realises there’s still a ways to go before it’s the perfect product.

He said, “We are incredibly good in South Australia at generating electricity from wind and solar particularly. We need to get better at harnessing it and delivering it to consumers in the way consumers need and want to receive it.”

 

Virtual power plants

One of the ways that South Australia is developing its environmentally sustainable power practices is with the development of a virtual power plant. Syncing a network of residential solar panels and Tesla-supplied batteries, means we can create a system that benefits everyone. The batteries create a way for on-demand power supply, even when the sun isn’t out.

Solar panels first and foremost provide power for the property they’re installed on. When appropriate, excess power can be sold back into the grid and the virtual power plant sends this power where and when it’s most needed. The first panels and batteries have been installed in 2018 and this will continue into 2019.

This development is seen as the first of many, with van Holst Pellekaan optimistic of other companies running similar projects in South Australia.

He said, “I’m very glad that Tesla is working with our government; it’s a great partnership shining a spotlight on South Australia, and I know that many other companies can contribute and be partners with us in exactly the same way. In fact, my very first meeting after being sworn in as minister was with Tesla, and I have met with numerous companies playing an important part in the delivery of clean energy since then.”

Registrations for the virtual power plant system are still available. You can show your interest using this online form