South Australian Energy Crisis – Where to From Here?
Last Thursday (March 9) Tesla’s head of energy Linden Rive advised Radio National Breakfast that Tesla could fix South Australia’s ongoing energy shortage crises. Rive proposed to install 100-300 megawatt hours of power within 100 days, thanks to the dramatic increase in production out of its new Gigafactory in Nevada. Tesla, however, have no shortage of local competitors – such as the Lyon Solar Group.
Since Rive’s claim, according to the ABC, companies such as Zen, Lyon Solar Group and Carnegie are putting their hand up as potential frontrunners to take on the battery storage challenge. These companies are already locally based and at least one has taken umbrage at Rive’s fairly audacious claim of 100 days. According to David Green from Lyon, to finalise the contract (from when the 100 days would commence) would entail “…nine months worth of work that goes into identifying the land, going through the network connection process, extensive assessment of network flows and identifying the appropriate configuration of your project”. As such, it would appear that the process would be much more likely to take 200 days rather than 100. Regardless, Tesla are a market leader with proven runs on the board so it will be interesting to see what the others offer.
Regulations Still Hindering Progress
In any case, before this happens, Lyon’s Green noted that there is still a “recognition of the need for batteries to play an appropriate role (in solving the energy crisis in SA)”. Green noted that one of the greatest hindrances to the widespread adoption of battery technology by energy suppliers is regulations. Current regulation and market mechanisms are geared towards generation and transmission, instead of actual power storage.
Lyon Solar’s Current Projects
Although Tesla are known worldwide for their forward-thinking and market leading solar solutions, Lyon Solar have plenty of expertise in this field as well. In September of last year Lyon Solar Partner David Green announced they were partnering with Mitsubishi Corporation. The partnership was seeking to roll out 1GW of solar + 500MWh of battery storage by 2020.
Regardless of how the state and federal government manage to solve this crisis and help South Australia with their power woes, the current regulations and market mechanisms need to move with this times if Australia is going to start benefiting from the environmentally friendly and long-term solution of solar energy.
With 1.5 million Australian homes already enjoying the benefits of solar power, there has never been a better time to invest in the future on a state and national level – ensuring we don’t see statewide blackouts become the norm – not only in SA, but the rest of the country. Renewable energy is great, but wind and solar only work when the wind blows and the sun shines – so it’s important we look at changing regulations with regards to battery storage.