TESLA’s recent South Australian battery announcement has solidified the state as a world leader in renewable energy.
The California-based company will be joined by the Lyon Group in developing some of the world’s largest lithium ion battery facilities in the same Australian state – two different projects separated by about 135km.
Tesla’s installation will be located at a wind farm north of South Australia’s capital Adelaide and Lyon’s solar battery project is being established in the state’s east.
Both projects are set to be operational by the end of the year and will provide a combined 200MW of storage to help stabilise South Australia’s power grid and reduce energy prices.
South Australia leads the nation in the uptake of wind energy and rooftop solar with renewable sources accounting for more than 40 per cent of the electricity generated in the state.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announcing the agreement to build the world's biggest battery in South Australia last week. Picture: Andre Castellucci/InDaily
However, the closure of two coal-fired power stations in recent years has increased its reliance on energy supplies from the eastern Australian states, particularly in times of peak demand.
Research Principal in the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney Geoff James said South Australia was already one of the leading jurisdictions worldwide in renewable energy but the new battery opportunities would set an example for the rest of the world to follow.
“Batteries are pretty much ideal resources to respond to blackouts and can step in quite quickly,” he said.
“The proposed battery projects will be an important demonstration of batteries as fast acting grid support resources.
“The main takeaway, however, is the diversity of the energy generation – one wind and one solar – this will show the rest of the world how diverse projects can work together, become more dispatchable and present great value.”
Tesla’s 100MW/129MWh battery will operate at all times providing stability services for renewable energy and will be available to provide emergency back-up power if a shortfall in energy is predicted.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the battery, which will be installed at the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia’s mid-north, would be three times as powerful as the next largest lithium ion battery.
An artist impression of the Lyon Group's Riverland solar battery project.
Lyon’s parallel storage plan will have a 100MW battery with a 500MWh storage capacity and while Tesla’s powerpack is designed for short delivery bursts, Lyon’s project could provide electricity charges over a longer period of time.
Lyon Group CEO David Green said the Tesla deal had highlighted the huge strides that are being made in renewables and battery storage and South Australia was an ideal place to showcase the viability of the technology.
“There is a huge demand within the private sector and amongst the public to move to renewable energy technology that is reliably underpinned by battery storage,” he said.
“The battery systems are required to ensure the increasing proportion of variable renewables are available when needed and provide system security in a new kind of grid.”
Green said he expected increased interest in battery storage if the South Australian plans were successful.
Last week former United States Vice President Al Gore was in Sydney to promote his new documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
After leaving politics he has been dedicated to the fight against climate change and global warming.
In an interview with theFix, Gore said the transition to renewable electricity would be much easier because battery prices were rapidly decreasing.
"I have a lot of admiration for South Australia because it's now leading the world — the largest battery ever, and this will be the first of many," he said.
ZEN Energy's Freedom Powerbank uses high-density lithium ion batteries that captures solar or wind generated energy for later use.
In 2014, South Australia made global headlines when it was announced that the state “with the population of West Virginia” had been powered by 100 per cent renewable energy for an entire working day.
It already has one of the highest solar penetration rates in the world and is home to innovative companies such as Zen Energy that connects new housing estates to their own private electricity grids and 1414 degrees, which has developed an energy storage system using silicon instead of lithium.
South Australia is also set for more battery installations with the Lyon Group working on another 100MW battery facility at a solar farm near Olympic Dam for next year and Zen Energy considering its own project.