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.