SA Tesla Battery Plan – Election Fallout

The future of the SA Tesla Battery plan brokered between Elon Musk’s Tesla and Jay Weatherill’s is on unstable footing after the results of Saturday’s state election in South Australia, seeing Weatherill’s party defeated by the Liberals. But will it make much of a difference? How will the new party serve SA’s rapidly growing renewable energy industry?

SA Tesla Battery Plan
SA Tesla Battery Plan Future? Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk in happier times (source: SA Labor Facebook)

SA Tesla Battery Plan – What Now?

The incumbent Labor party, headed up by Jay Weatherill, lost to the Liberal party on Saturday night after 16 years of rule in South Australia. The new premier is Steven Marshall who seems quite keen on continuing the Labor party’s work on growing renewable energy in the state.

ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly asked Marshall about the plan to equip housing trust properties with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries, and Mr Marshall said: “That’s not part of our agenda. Our agenda is 40,000 homes.” However, when pressed about the specifics at a later date, Marshall was a (little) more clear on the Liberals’ plans:

“We don’t know where that is but any contracts the [previous] government’s entered into — we’ll be honouring them, there’s no doubt about that. Any other items that they flagged during the election, we’re happy to look at it but we’ve got our own energy policy agenda and we’ll be rolling that out as a priority.”

We wrote earlier this year about the South Australian solar loan program which both parties had different versions of a renewable energy push for the state – Labor were offering $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners could access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both – with the loans interest free for the first 7  years. There was talk of the solar batteries offered in this scheme to be 100% manufactured by Tesla. 

In contrast Steve Marshall’s Liberals had the same amount of expenditure – on a bigger scale, with a smaller amount per household – their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings. Mr Marshall argued at the time that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’, speaking about the rapidly increasing cost of electricity. The Liberals haven’t mentioned Tesla specifically and Marshall doesn’t have the same close relationship as Weatherill had with the enigmatic Elon Musk – but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Marshall is clearly keen to move forwards on renewable energy and whether he chooses Tesla or one of the Powerwall 2 alternatives as their energy storage battery of choice may not matter so much.

We’ll keep a close eye on how the Marshall government moves forwards with the SA renewable energy initiatives and keep reporting in! 

 

 

sonnen in South Australia – HQ, manufacturing plant.

sonnen in South Australia – the German battery manufacturing giant (which is also the world’s largest home storage energy company) have announced that they’re going to move their Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide. The announcement was made last week during a huge week for renewables in SA – with the upcoming election both major parties have promised $100m in solar loans for South Australian residents.  

sonnen in South Australia

Along with the administrative tasks (i.e. the ‘headquarters’) of sonnen’s Australian operations, they’ll also be setting up a full energy storage manufacturing facility in the state.

Chris Parratt, the Australian boss of sonnen’s Australasian business, said the company will have a solar battery manufacturing facility ‘up and running’ in Adelaide within six to nine months.  According to the Australian Financial Review, Parratt says the facility will be able to produce 10,000 systems a year, including sonnen’s flagship sonnenBatterie line. He noted that they are looking at four separate locations in Adelaide, including the former Holden car manufacturing site and the former Mitsubishi car-making factory in Tonsley Park precinct. 

sonnen in South Australia
sonnen in South Australia – sonnenBatterie eco 8.2 (source: sonnen.com.au)

Parratt noted that sonnen have set up a similar facility in Atlanta in the United States of America in a fast timeline last year telling a press conference (along with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill) that they’re confident in scope management:

“We believe in about six to nine months we’ll be producing our first energy storage system,” he said. 

sonnen already have 30,000 household batteries installed in Germany, making them the world’s largest home storage energy company. 

It looks like this will go ahead regardless of whether Weatherill’s incumbent party or the South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall wrests control of the state – the latter is against renewable energy targets but has also committed to a $100m means-tested subsidy for up to 40,000 households to get interest free solar loans. 

Weatherill was quick to extol the employment ramifications of the move, having been told he was “doubling down to chase his losses” by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg last week with regards to raising the RET from 50% to 75%:

“We saw yesterday I was accused of being a problem gambler. Well today, South Australia has hit the jobs jackpot,” Mr Weatherill said, referring to Sonnen’s plans, which will create 130 new immediate jobs, rising to 190 by the end of the year, and then another 300 jobs for trades people to install the batteries.

It’s shaping up to be a very interesting election in South Australia. Who are you voting for, and why? Let us know in the comments. 

 
 

Solar loans in South Australia, sonnen to move HQ

Premier Jay Weatherill has announced $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners will be able to access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both. The loans will be interest free for the first 7  years. At the same time, German company sonnen has announced it will relocate its Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide – we’ll report more on that next week. 

Solar Loans in South Australia

Solar Loans in South Australia
Solar Loans in South Australia (source: Jeremy Buckingham via Wikipedia)

Yesterday the Labor party made the announcement that they will offer these solar loans for private homes – with Premier Weatherill discussing the ramifications of the plan in a press conference:

“It’s going to slash bills, we’ve already seen that with our virtual power station, modelling demonstrates a 30 per cent reduction in energy power,” he said.

“We’ve seen from the national regulator that renewable energy projects are projected to reduce energy bills by $300 over the next two years, so it’s just beginning to happen.”

The Liberal party already announced a very similar policy last October so it looks like there’ll be a good result for renewables no matter who wins – it’s a little surprising to see Premier Weatherill offer something so similar when he has been such a champion of renewable energy for so long. Regardless, it’s a great scheme and one which will have a good result either way – South Australia continues to lead the charges with regards to renewables in Australia.

According to the ABC, opposition leader Steven Marshall said their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings – so less money, but for more properties. Mr Marshall argued that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’ with regards to ballooning energy prices:

“The reality is 10,000 is not going to shift the dial in South Australia in terms of prices, unlike the Liberal Party which has put our policy up for independent scrutiny and we know that prices will come down under the Liberal Party’s energy policy,” Mr Marshall said.

“We’ve put our plan out for independent evaluation.

“Labor still hasn’t provided any indication whether this is going to bring down energy prices in South Australia for any more than just the 10,000 people it’s talking about.”

Back in October last year the Liberal party said their plan will save $300 per household per annum, but later admitted their modelling was inaccurate and the savings will be around $70 and won’t start until 2022. To achieve that figure of $300 a $500m-$700m interconnecter to New South Wales would need to be connected by 2021.

No word on specific savings with regards to Labor’s plan so for the time being voters will need to decide whether $2,500 for 40,000 houses or $10,000 for 10,000 houses is going to have a better effect on energy prices and stability. No doubt we’ll have more information on this as election time draws nearer! 

 

Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill is on the campaign trail at the moment – promising to introduce Australia’s first renewable energy storage target (which the state will subsidise) and also upping the current state-based 2025 renewable energy target from 50% to 75% (given they’re already at 48.9%).

Renewable Energy Storage Target

Jay Weatherill - Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia
Jay Weatherill – Renewable Energy Storage Target for South Australia (source: @jayweatherill on Twitter)

Weatherill was at an election forum which was about the environment on Tuesday (the 20th) and said the South Australian state election to be held on March 17 will be primarily focused on renewable energy – a ‘referendum on renewables’ of sorts: 

“If we go down, they will be wagging their fingers at everybody around the nation, to say that’s what happens if you push too hard into renewable energy,” Weatherill said. “That’s what the prime minister is trying to do and that’s what is going to happen.”

He has promised to lift the renewable energy target to 75% and implement a renewable energy storage target which would be 25% of SA’s peak demand – approximately 750MW of storage. The government would help the private sector meet this target through subsidy arrangements. 

Weatherill discussed his party’s policy further with Guardian Australia, noting that South Australia are happy to continue ‘going it alone’ if they’re not going to get any help from the Turnbull government:

“It’s a rejection of the federal government’s approach – and the state Liberal party’s approach,” Weatherill said. “We’re not interested in putting our leadership in renewable energy in the hands of people that don’t believe in a renewable energy future.”

Carnegie Clean Energy reported yesterday that they have secured $3 million in government funding to build a 2MW, 500 kWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth, South Australia. With the rapidly decreasing cost of large-scale energy storage, it seems that the Renewable Energy Storage target shouldn’t be too much of a problem and will be a massive help to baseline power and will also assist in reducing the blackouts which plagued the country in 2016.

“This solar and battery project by Carnegie is part of a wave of new investment in South Australia we have leveraged through the $150m Renewable Technology Fund announced as part of our energy plan,” Weatherill said at the time.

In further news, Weatherill has today announced that South Australian households will be able to apply for a $10,000 loan to cover the cost of installing solar panels and battery storage – which we’ll cover tomorrow. 

 

Tesla Virtual Power Plant in SA

A Tesla Virtual Power Plant will be built in South Australia, comprising of 50,000 home solar and battery systems state-wide. The deal between the South Australian Government and Elon Musk’s Tesla was announced last week by Premier Jay Weatherill ahead of the SA March state election. 

The SA government have pledged to do their part in the implementation of the virtual power plant scheme with a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the state Renewable Technology Fund.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant

According to Premier Weatherill, a trial of the scheme has already begun in Housing Trust properties, with 100 properties to receive their systems by EOFY (June 30), and another 1,000 in FY 18/19. After the trial is complete another 24,000 Housing Trust properties will receive the systems. 

Since there’s no word yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 release date, they’ll use the Powerwall 2 batteries which have a 13.5kWh size. 5kW solar arrays will also be used for the 50,000 homes included in the virtual power plant. No word yet on the specifics of the solar panels the arrays will consist of but we’ll bring you that information as it becomes available.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant - Powerwall 2 Solar Battery
Tesla Virtual Power Plant – Powerwall 2 Solar Battery (source: tesla.com)

A statement from Tesla was released: 

“When the South Australian Government invited submissions for innovation in renewables and storage, Tesla’s proposal to create a virtual power plant with 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt hours of battery storage was successful. A virtual power plant utilises Tesla Powerwall batteries to store energy collectively from thousands of homes with solar panels. At key moments, the virtual power plant could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant.”

Danny Price of Frontier Economics discussed the program with the ABC:

“The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” Price said.

Zoe Bettison, the Minister for Social Housing, discussed the reason they are installing these solar + storage systems in Housing Trust properties:

“We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said.

A mammoth deal and step forward for South Australian solar – we’ll bring you more information as it becomes available!

Tesla Battery in South Australia completed.

Elon Musk’s 100MW Tesla Battery in South Australia has been completed – well ahead of its December 1 operation deadline. The array of Tesla Powerpack batteries will be tested over the coming days and we can expect the system to be fully live by next Friday.

Tesla Battery in South Australia 

Tesla Battery in South Australia
Tesla Battery in South Australia (source: Tesla)

The Tesla South Australia battery partnership was first inked back in July when Musk partnered with Neoen and signed an agreement with the South Australian government to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. The battery farm is powered by Neoen’s 315MW Hornsdale wind farm and is located adjacent to it in Jamestown, about 200 kilometres north of Adelaide. 

The $50 million system is capable of outputting 129MWh and can be used as baseline power during summer peak loading periods, where it can provide enough energy to power 30,000 homes for eight hours, or 60,000 for four. While this might not seem like a lot and one wonders if another company could have done it for cheaper (91 groups bid for the project), it’s definitely been a great way to raise awareness of energy storage in Australia and its rapidly rising uptake (and rapidly decreasing cost). 

It’s important to note that the Tesla battery is far from a panacea for South Australia’s energy woes – as Tony Wood, the energy program director at the Grattan Institute, told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Over time, storage can help put downward pressure on prices because it can flatten out peak demand,” Wood said.

“It’s a very useful step in the right direction … but it doesn’t solve South Australia’s problem, even at that scale.”

In the meantime, Tesla continues to burn through cash at the rate of $8,000 USD / minute as they struggle to get on top of the Model 3 rollout. What does this mean for the Powerwall 3? The next 12 months will be extremely interesting for Elon Musk and his ‘blue sky’ investors – we hope they’re able to get all their ducks in a row and Musk can start making Tesla more cashflow positive. 

In the meantime, let’s see how Tesla’s battery works over summer for South Australia! 

Solar thermal power plant for South Australia

Big news out of South Australia today as Port Augusta is going to get a $650m solar thermal power plant to supply all the power needs for the State Government. It is slated to commence construction in 2018 and will generate 150MW of power. This is a major boon for South Australian solar and the industry as a whole.

Port Augusta Solar thermal power plant.

The plant, which is going to be named ‘Aurora’, will be built by SolarReserve over a three year period. According to AdelaideNow, the standard output under regular conditions will be around 135MW – it will be viable to raise this in peak periods if there are favourable conditions.

SolarReserve have agreed to pay to construct the plant and the State Government have agreed to buy its power over a 20-year contract. RenewEconomy have reported that the government will pay a levelised price of ~$75/MWh, and ‘no more’ than $78/MWh. The project will be created thanks to a $110 million ‘concessional equity loan’ from the Federal Government to SolarReserve, and will be able to store between eight and 10 hours of energy to facilitate power supply even when the sun’s not shining.

According to the CEO of SolarReserve, Kevin Smith, the solar thermal power plant will comprise of approximately 12,000 mirrors, each the size of a billboard (around 100sqm), arranged in a circle over 600 hectares. Each of the 12,000 mirrors will focus light and heat to the top of a 227m tall tower to generate up to 150MW. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility,” he said.

The ‘concentrated solar power technology’ will use the 12,000 mirrors (also known as heliostats) to send heat/light to a receiver at the top of the tower where moten salt stored there is heated to 565 degrees Celsius, generating steam to drive a single turbine. Since the project will include storage as well, it should result in a substantial reduction in wholesale price volatility, according to Smith.

The design is based on the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility at the Mojave Desert in Nevada, which has a gross capacity of 392MW and has a gigantic 170,000 mirrors (enough to power 140,000 Californian homes).

SolarReserve, based in Santa Monica, have already constructed a solar thermal power plant, with the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project a success (although it was taken offline for ~8 months over 2016/17 due to a molten salt tank).

“We are supporting this nation-leading renewable energy project because it will deliver more competition into our energy market and put downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses,” Jay Weatherill, the premier of South Australia said.

Watch this space to learn more about the project!

Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant
Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant (source: wikipedia.org)

Renewable energy in South Australia

Industry analysts have advised that renewable energy in South Australia will replace gas as SA’s primary source of electricity within eight years. A report by Wood Mackenzie says that by 2025 battery storage will be cheaper than OCGT (open-cycle gas turbine) plants.

The future of renewable energy in South Australia

Renewable energy has been a huge topic of conversation in South Australia lately, especially after the Tesla South Australia battery partnership was announced earlier this month. Despite having a torrid time of it last year with widespread blackouts, premier Jay Weatherill has been forging ahead with his vision of a state primarily powered by renewables, and has been doing a great job. The Lyon Group recently announced a $1 billion battery and solar farm for SA and there are myriad others on the books.

Renewable Energy in South Australia Jay Weatherill
Jay Weatherill – championing renewable energy in South Australia (source: AFR.com)

The report, created by Wood Mackenzie and Greentech Media Research, forecast that battery costs will decrease by 50% by 2025. Bikal Pokharel, an analyst for Wood Mackenzie, noted that SA’s peak loads are currently managed by the OCGT plants, but this will change in the future. By 2025, Pokarel says, “battery storage would be cheaper than OCGTs in managing peak loads … OCGTs would then be relegated as emergency back-ups.”

“If current cost trends continue, 2025 could very well see renewables and batteries overtake rival generating alternatives in dominating South Australia’s power system, and the region could become a leading case study on managing a power system in transition for other mature markets to follow,” Pokharel said.

If the renewables projects currently on the books proceed, by 2025 a whopping 67% of South Australia’s energy requirements will be met by renewables. Since solar and wind power isn’t as reliable as traditional methods, ‘dispatchable power’ will be required to cover base loads – and according to Pokharel, “Current gas supply and transportation terms cannot meet this type of demand profile”.

Funnily enough, expensive diesel generators may become a viable option since they (and their fuel) are simple to store and can be set up quickly. In order to use gas as dispatchable power, changes must be made to the operation of the market – involving offering subsidies for “must-run” gas units or standing capacity.

It’s great to see South Australia leading the way with their charge towards a renewable heavy energy economy and we’re excited to see where this leads in the future.

Tesla South Australia battery partnership

A massive boon for South Australian solar today as Tesla’s Elon Musk and the South Australian government have paired with Neoen to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. The Tesla South Australia partnership will be a world first and comes off the back of a bunch of Twitter banter in March 2017 between Musk and various Twitter users (initially spearheaded by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes), where he mentioned he is in discussions with the Premier about installing large scale solar in South Australia.

Tesla South Australia to create world’s biggest battery

The project will be 100MW (or 129MWh) and according to Musk on Twitter earlier in the year, it’ll be installed ‘within 100 days from contract signature or it is free’ – so we’ll be seeing the battery live and working this year! Jay Weatherill, the Premier of South Australia, was quoted as saying  “Battery storage is the future of our national energy market, and the eyes of the world will be following our leadership in this space”.

According to Nick Harmsen on Twitter, the battery will be built alongside Neoen‘s Hornsdale wind farm (currently 315MW), which is in Jamestown (mid-north South Australia). More details of the partnership coming straight from Heatherill’s office are embedded in the Tweet below:

The deputy CEO of Neoen, Romain Desrousseaux, said the project will highlight how large scale storage is now “commercially viable” and will also be able to provide “dependable, distributable power” – which was one of the main problems last year when South Australia suffered numerous lengthy blackouts, including last September when a freak storm damaged transmission lines. According to Weatherill and the ABC, the government had about 91 international bidders for the battery project, which could be used in the future to avoid load-shedding summer blackouts when electricity demand outstrips supply. Solar power (albeit as ‘energy storage’) being used to provide stability for the power grid is a new concept – and we’re very excited to see how it helps the festival state.
Elon Musk Tesla South Australia Partnership
Elon Musk announces the Tesla South Australia Partnership (source: ABC)

Tesla’s Musk was quoted today at a press conference at the Adelaide Oval as saying “It’s a fundamental efficiency improvement to the power grid, and it’s really quite necessary and quite obvious considering a renewable energy future”.

Tesla / South Australia Battery Partnership Reception

In an opinion piece for The Advertiser, Redflow CEO Simon Hackett has said South Australia’s 129 MWh Tesla project sets up the state as a world leader in battery storage. He also noted that it ‘confirms the integral role that batteries will play in the successful exploitation of renewable energy sources’.

 

 

Lyon Solar announce $1b solar-battery farm for South Australia in 2017

Lyon Solar (the Lyon Group) have announced massive news today, releasing a press release stating they’re going to build a $1b solar+storage farm in South Australia’s Riverland by the end of 2017. The farm, which will consist of 330 mw of solar (cost of around $700 million) and a 100mw lithium-ion battery farm with 400Wh capacity (i.e. four hours of storage) costing $200-300m. It will probably connect to the grid on some scrubland near the small town of Morgan – land has already been secured on where to build the farm. It’s been announced that the system will boast 3.4m solar panels and 1.1m batteries. The solar power generation will qualify for existing renewable energy subsidies of $84/MWh (in addition to the wholesale market price).

About The Lyon Group

The Lyon Group is a Brisbane based partnership run by David Green and backed by Mitsubishi of Japan and the Unite States hedge fund Magnetar Capital. Private equity firm Blackstone, through Magnetar, are among the companies backing the project. Green stated that “We have the capital. That’s already secured,” he said; noting that players like Blackstone don’t “come in behind something that’s ill-considered”. Lyon will be partnered by AES Energy Storage who were instrumental in the emergency roll-out of large-scale battery storage in California last year. Also involved are Tesla and Greensmith (ZEN Energy‘s supplier).

The Lyon Group’s Current Australian Projects

Below is a map of Lyon Solar’s current Australian projects – they’re a big player in the market (have a closer look at their current 120mw Kingfisher project)  and we’re very excited about the  potential of the new Riverland project, which is 100% equity financed and will commence construction around June, employing 270 workers. This solar-battery farm will be the world’s biggest and is extremely exciting for those of us following the energy storage revolution.

Lyon Solar's Australian Projects
Lyon Solar’s Australian Projects (source: AFR.com)

With Wednesday’s shutdown of Victoria’s 1600mw ‘dirty coal’ Hazelwood plant, the project, whilst not a panacea, could go a long way to help solving South Australia’s current and Victoria’s impending energy problems. As Riverland and other large scale projects launch, maybe it’s time to start thinking about upgrading the SA-VIC and creating a new SA-NSW interconnector so as to increase energy flow between the states? Wonder what Jay Weatherill would think?

If you want to hear more straight from the ‘horse’s mouth’ (sorry David) – David Green from Lyon Solar will be speaking at the Informa Large Scale Solar Conference hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney next week, April 3-4.