South Australia adopting cutting edge grid-scale ESS technology

Published on: February 8, 2018 10:25 amBy: Jade Beevor


South Australia’s adoption of the latest technology to address its energy problems will involve a trial of virtual power plants and installation of a 4.3MWh lithium ion micro-grid, its government announced in early February.

The state’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis said the South Australian Produce Market would install 2.5MW array using 1,600 solar panels alongside the micro-grid at their Pooraka facility.

The A$10.5 million ($8.1 million) microgrid will supply wholesale market energy needs and feed surplus power into the broader grid for peak shaving services.

The system meets the goals of the energy trilemma by putting downward pressure on power prices — and saving market shareholders A$5.5 million over 10 years — while cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the site by 2,637 tonnes each year.

The system also includes a 2.5MW onsite generator, which at full capacity will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4,500 homes.

The microgrid is set to be fully operational by late 2018.

There is around 7,300 businesses in South Australia with solar PV systems, and an estimated 210,000 SA households with rooftop solar PV.

Against this background of PV adoption, the state government announced on February 5 it had begun trials of a virtual power plant using Tesla’s residential lithium ion Powerwall energy storage systems plus rooftop PV.

The PV systems will convert solar and either feed it into the main electricity grid or store it in the ESS. The systems will remain operational for up to 20 years.

Tesla is due to establish a service hub at Tonsley, near Adelaide — a commitment that falls within the Hornsdale Battery Project where Tesla built its 100MW ESS last year — to allow technicians to monitor and service the powerpacks, along with the superchargers installed across the state, and the residential Powerwall installations — including those announced as part of the VPP.

The VPP programme will initially entail supplying around 1,100 housing trust tenants across the state with 5kW solar panels plus 13.5kWh ESSs to test the technology’s capabilities.

Depending on the outcome of the trials that finish in June 2019, the programme will be extended to at least 24,000 housing trust properties and 25,000 private properties across South Australia.

A VPP would provide around 20% of the state’s average daily energy requirements.

SA premier Jay Weatherill said: “I want South Australia to be the epicentre of the renewable energy industry.”

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