SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S ENERGY SCENE has taken on an extraordinary dynamic since the state was hit by power blackout episodes in 2016-17. These made South Australia the focus of a fierce national coal-versus-renewables energy debate.
The Labor state government (2006-18) had made a world-leading embrace of renewable energy that raced to nearly 50% output, eight years before schedule, while South Australia’s last coal-fired power station at Port Augusta had closed.
Facing a backlash including ridicule from the federal government, the South Australian Labor government took on a go-it-alone plan that abandoned relying on the national energy market and the state’s own private electricity providers.
The state government turned back the clock and a national trend by announcing a gas-fired power station as its emergency backup. To force competition in the state power market, it also looked for a renewables supply for its own energy needs. This underpinned plans for the world’s biggest solar thermal plant – at Port Augusta.
Two major outside influences galvanised the renewables push. Firstly, Tesla’s Elon Musk fulfilled a promise to build the world’s biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia within 100 days. The effect of this plant on the national energy grid changed the issue from Australia having a peak load, not a baseload, power problem.
The other outside influence was the entrance of Whyalla steelworks new owner Sanjeev Gupta as an enthusiast for using renewables in industry. Battery backup has now become the essential part of the hundreds of megawatts being added to South Australia's wind and solar output.
South Australia is smoothing out the volatility when electricity prices spiked at $1,400 a megawatt-hour with claims that the state had the most expensive power in the world. This was blamed on the uneven flow of electricity from wind generators that requires expensive calls for gas-fired power during shortfalls. The Telsa battery has been effective in smoothing out energy supply volatility in South Australia and nationally.
The Liberal state government from 2018 has essentially maintained the renewables push. Its vision for a second $900m interconnector to the national electricity grid in New South Wales is partly based on being able to sell renewables energy to the eastern states. It also introduced a $100 million fund for means-tested grants averaging $2,500 to 40,000 homes to buy batteries to store power from rooftop solar panels – the panels that started South Australia's renewable revolution.
ADELAIDE'S FIRST ELECTRICITY SUPPLY DELAYDED UNTIL 1900
From earliest settlement, Adelaide lit its streets and homes by candles and whale oil in lamps. Hotels were responsible for most of the lighting of the city's streets. As part of hotelkeepers' licences, they were required to provide a light over their front door, even after gas lighting of the streets started in 1865. Offenders were heavily fined and could lose their licence for repeated offences. This law remained until the 1870s. Some hotelkeepers were killed by falling off ladders trying to light their front lamps.Tallow candles were made in candle and soap factories in the city. One was the much-complained-of factory of Burford & Son, which caused a lot of pollution and was destroyed by fire several times, before being pressured to move from Grenfell Street, Adelaide. (This site was later taken over by the South Australian Electric Light and Motive Power Company for a coal-fired powerhouse.) There was also the option to buy five-gallon jars of oil imported from Egypt. Until the former Lord Raglan Hotel was rebuilt at 109 Waymouth Street, Adelaide, in 1915, several walls of the former structure were made from these old oil jars about 400mm high. The publican, James Davey, was a contractor for importing the jars of oil but went out of business when gas was introduced. When he went into the hotel business, not wanting to waste his stock of jars, he used them to rebuild the Lord Raglan.
The South Australian Gas Company was incorporated by an act of the parliament in 1861. The company was supplying the gas that lit Adelaide streets by 1865. A chief promoter of the South Australian Gas Company and its first chairman was Henry Ayers, who become premier and was among prominent Adelaide residents enriched by the Burra Burra copper mines boom. The first coal-gas works were at Brompton with others at Port Adelaide, Glenelg, Thebarton, Osborne and regional areas after the Provincial Gas Company merged with the South Australian Gas Company in 1878. The gas company’s powerful shareholders resisted attempts to introduce electricity in Adelaide until 1895. To face electricity’s threat, the gas company (SAGASCO) opened a showroom in its Grenfell Street, Adelaide, headquarters in 1892. Moving to King William Street, Adelaide, in 1903, the company had female instructors demonstrate cooking and visit homes of people who’d bought stoves. In 1961, the SAGASCO still was one of South Australia’s major industries, serving 130,000 consumers and employing more than 1200. The company took a new direction in 1966, entering Australia’s first contract to buy natural gas. This coincided with the Moomba-to-Adelaide natural gas pipeline being built. As a distributor of natural gas from 1969, SAGASCO dismantled the coal-gas plants and cut its workforce. In 1988, the South Australian Gas Company merged with the South Australian Oil & Gas Corporation to form SAGASCO Holdings Group that, in 1993, became a subsidiary of Boral Limited.
Electricity for Adelaide in the late 19th Century was blocked for more than a decade by opponents who were mainly shareholders in the South Australian Gas Company. Telegraph supervisor Charles Todd, who arrived in South Australia in 1855, pioneered electrical telegraphic communications and introduced the idea of electricity for street lighting. The first public electricity supply in England in 1882 prompted a private member’s bill in the colonial parliament to create the South Australian Electric Company. In 1891-92, Adelaide City Council considered “electric lighting” as one of its most important questions and planned to light the streets from dusk to midnight. But it wasn't until 1895 that the South Australian Electric Light and Motive Power Company was registered and began supplying power to Port Adelaide from its Nile Street generator in 1899. In 1900, Adelaide got its electricity from a temporary generator in Tam O’Shanter Place, Adelaide, and, in 1901, a new coal-fired powerhouse in Grenfell Street, Adelaide, was opened, supplying North Adelaide by 1902. South Australian Electric Light and Motive Power Company was bought by the Adelaide Electric Supply Company (set up in 1897) in 1904. It spread transmission into the suburbs, quickly gaining consumers, including the electric tramways. Faced with power demand well beyond its capacity of the Grenfell Street plant, by 1926 Adelaide Electric Supply had built substations extending transmission into the suburbs and rural areas. This was helped greatly by the cheap pole created by James Stobie, one of its engineers.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA JOINS NATIONAL POWER GRID AND MARKET IN 1990
The expanding electricity market in all states budged the start of a national gas pipeline network in the late 1960s. This meant building long pipelines, including a 780km natural gas line from Moomba in the Cooper Basin to Adelaide in 1969. Its gas was used at the Torrens Island power station. South Australia became linked in 1990 to New South Wales-Victoria electricity power sharing, via an interconnector at Heywood in Victoria where the Victorian ended its 500kV power line to the Portland smelter. Australia’s power grid links grew into the world’s largest, connecting South Australia with Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania over 5000 kilometres from Port Douglas in Queensland to Port Lincoln in South Australia. From 1998, this national synchronous transmission grid has brought into play the National Electricity Market (NEM), as the trading place for the Australian wholesale electricity market. More than $11 billion of electricity is traded annually in the NEM to service almost 19 million end-use consumers. South Australian both draws from and feeds into this national market of electricity trading. Main points of concern have been whether South Australian should have more than one main link to the national grid and whether the grid is geared to accommodate the entry of renewable energy in a market otherwise dominated by coal-fuelled power in the eastern states.
An extra $200 high-capacity interconnector to the national electricity market via New South Wales was a centrepiece of the South Australian Liberals energy policy before they were elected as state government in 2018. The Australian Energy Council, representing major electricity and gas wholesalers and retailers, supported the Liberal government’s national outlook away from a state-based renewables target. But it didn’t favour the NSW connector due to a threat of that state’s coal-power generators undercutting the prices of South Australian generators. South Australia’s transmission network provider ElectraNet put the case for 330kV line between South Australia’s mid-north and Wagga Wagga, via Buronga, to lower electricity prices, improve system security and lower carbon emissions. The 2018 South Australian Liberal government treasurer Rob Lucas oversaw privatising of Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) assets during the previous Liberal government in 1999. To maximise the sale price of ETSA, Lucas killed a plan for a new interconnector to NSW. This left South Australia in the hands of a small oligopoly of generators and retailers, as represented by the Australian Energy Council.
INFLUX OF SOLAR/WIND RENEWABLE POWER BECOMES UNSTOPPABLE FORCE IN 21st CENTURY
The South Australian government and Adelaide City Council in 2015 formed a globally unique partnership to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2050. Despite doubters, the city council has maintained confidence in the target year, reduced to 2025, pointing to a 15% drop on carbon emissions during a 46% rise in residents, 35% more student enrolments and 42% more daily city users. In 2016, the state government and the City of Adelaide released the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan. Among its strategies were investing in energy efficiency and renewables, installing solar PV on low-income housing, laws to allow building owners to access private finance to upgrade buildings’ energy efficiency, investing in low emission public transport and encouraging cycling and walking; accelerating the use of electric vehicles, and reducing emissions from waste,. The Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards, introduced in 2017, showcased community leaders and active contributors to the goal of City of Adelaide becoming the world’s first carbon neutral city. The awards incorporated the CitySwitch Green Office run successfully since 2008.
THE CRUNCH POINT FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S GAS-DOMINATED POWER GENERATION FUTURE
The advent of wind and solar energy into the South Australian electricity market prompted the mothballing of chunks of the state’s gas-fired generation. In 2014, the four older units at AGL Torrens’ A station were shut down and, in 2015, more than half of Pelican Point station’s potential 479MW output was reduced to 230MW. AGL deferred the mothballing of four Torrens A ageing turbines after Alinta Energy’s’s Northern and AGL’s Playford B coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta were closed in 2016. AGL Torrens, on Torrens Island 18km northwest of Adelaide CBD, is South Australia’s largest power station and Australia’s largest natural-gas-fired power station. With a name plate capacity of 1,280MW, the Torrens Island station's natural gas is supplied via the SEAGas pipeline from Victoria and from Moomba in the Cooper Basin. The plant’s ‘A’ Station began operating in 1967 and the ‘B’ Station was completed in 1976. Pelican Point is one of Australia’s most advanced, efficient and environmentally friendly gas power stations. Built in 1999, Pelican Point, on LeFevre Peninsula next to the Port River, began generating electricity in 2000, using a combined-cycle gas turbine to produce 479 MW of electricity – capable of supplying about 25% of South Australia’s needs. It also sources gas from Moomba and the Victorian SEAGas pipeline. Pelican Point has an energy efficiency of more than 50%, compared with older power stations at less than 35%. Pelican Point's majority joint owner is French company Engie (72%).
A once-in-50-years storm in September 2016 damaged critical infrastructure in South Australia, causing a state-wide blackout and leaving 1.7 million residents without electricity. This event sparked a national debate over the South Australia’s potential 50% use of renewable solar and wind. The blackout gave the coal industry, with vigorous support by conservative media outlets, a chance to lambast renewables. It was followed by two big power cuts in the 2016-17 summer. On February 8, 2017 – hot with low wind-energy output – load shedding ordered by the Australian Energy Market Authority (AEMO) meant 90,000 South Australian customers were left without power. A report revealed AEMO had incorrectly forecast electricity demand. This was compounded by other errors, raising the question of South Australia’s reliance on the national and state private electricity market. The February 8 events prompted the state government to declare the “national electricity market is broken. It’s a private market for private companies that puts profits before people.”
October 2018 brought an end to a requirement for 35MW of South Australia’s power to be provided by local frequency and ancillary services (FCAS) when there was risk of the state’s grid separating from the rest of the national grid. Introduced in late 2015, the 35MW requirement was designed to ensure that the state’s grid – with a high percentage of renewable energy – could operate securely by itself. Up to four major gas generators, the sole providers of FCAS in South Australia, charged price rises of nearly 100-fold to the market cap of $14,000/MWh when the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) made the precautionary call for local backup. This sent the cost of FCAS for such events up to $6 million a day. The total cost from several dozen events totalled $109 million in 2016-17, with costs passed on to wind farms and other big energy consumers. On a single day in October 2016, the FCAS within South Australia exceeded $4.5 million. The reliance on the gas generators was broken with the entry of the Tesla 129MW battery and its Hornsdale Power Reserve wind farm becoming FCAS providers in December 2017. In the first quarter of 2018, the cost of FCAS fell by nearly $33 million or 57%, AEMO said, largely because of the Tesla big battery. Engineering and advisory firm Aurecon’s analysis showed the sharp spikes in FCAS prices during bottlenecks on the network in 2016-17 were markedly absent in 2018 despite similar grid constraints, while prices overall were about 75% lower on average.
TESLA 100MW BATTERY INTEGRATES WITH THE 2017 ENERGY RESPONSE STRUCTURE
The 150MW $650 million Aurora solar thermal power plant project at Port Augusta – to be the biggest of its kind in the world – collapsed under a lack of funding in April 2019. In 2017, the Labor state government gave SolarReserve the contract to supply all the government’s electricity needs through its 150MW $650 million Aurora solar thermal power plant at Port Augusta: the biggest of its kind in the world. The government power supply contract underwrote the entry of the Port Augusta solar thermal plant, due to be ready in 2020. Until then, SIMEC Zen Energy, a new South Australian electricity retailer, would supply more than 80% – rising to 100% in 2019 – of the state government’s power needs. The deal, part of bringing more competition to the South Australian electricity market under the Labor government’s 2017 $550 million energy plan, made the government the first customer for SIMEC Zen Energy, a merger of GFC Alliance (the family company linked to new Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta) and leading Adelaide solar/battery energy company Zen Energy.
The Labor state government’s $150 million Renewable Technology Fund was part of its $550 million 2017 energy plan. The fund was $75 million in grants and $75 million in loans or other help for private innovative companies and entrepreneurs. Most notably, $50 million from this fund was paid towards Elon Musk's Tesla 100MW lithium ion battery near Jamestown. Companies from around the world submitted almost 60 proposals to the fund. Proposals include next generation renewable energy and energy storage technologies, including batteries, bioenergy, pumped hydro, thermal, compressed air and flywheel. Adelaide-based company 1414 Degrees submitted three proposals, including a pilot 10MWh thermal storage project to allow SA Water to store some energy it generates from biogas produced at the Glenelg wastewater treatment plant. The company was also developing a “silicon battery” that stores heat and energy. The 1414 technology, while often described as a “battery”, actually focuses more on heat storage and sees its biggest potential market in places like Europe, which relies heavily on district heating, particularly in winter,
Potentially, 90,000 South Australia homes will get home batteries to support their rooftop solar panels under two schemes started in 2018: the world’s biggest virtual power plant, initiated by Tesla and the Labor state government, followed by the home battery scheme promoted by the incoming Liberal state government. After initial doubts, the new Liberal government has backed the Tesla virtual power plant to install batteries with solar rooftop panels at 50,000 homes. A trial on 1,100 low-income homes was successful and the rest of the program would depend of private funding and final design agreement. Running parallel to the Tesla virtual power plant would be the Liberal state government home battery scheme for 40,000 South Australians to access grants of up to $6,000 to help pay for installing a home battery system from October 2018. This home battery revolution has added to the attractions for German energy storage giant Sonnen, Chinese battery maker Alpha-ESS and Canadian battery storage innovator Eguana Technologies to bring hundreds of advanced manufacturing jobs to South Australia in the wake of its renewables energy revolution.
PORT AUGUSTA/WHYALLA THE SCENE OF REMARKABLE GREEN INDUSTRY RENAISSANCE IN 2017/18
Sundrop Farms, a $100 million plant next to Spencer Gulf, in 2016 led Port Augusta's transition from a coal-fired power station town to a solar industry region. Sunrop Farms, just south of Port Augusta, as the world’s first large concentrated solar power to provide multiple energy streams – heating, fresh water, electricity – for horticulture. Its greenhouse is in a warm-climate area lacking rainfall where traditional horticulture isn’t feasible. By applying its proprietary technologies, Sundrop Farms have been growing delicious, natural and high-quality produce, using Southern Ocean seawater and sunlight. Its water comes from the Spencer Gulf and is desalinated using a cutting edge thermal desalination plant. It uses a state-of-the-art solar tower to produce energy to desalinate the water, power the plant-growing systems and to heat and cool the greenhouses as required. topped by a 234-tonne central boiler, the 115m tower has 23,000 mirrors pointed at it. Sundrop secured a 10-year supply agreement with supermarket chain Coles that underpinned the Port Augusta project. Sundrop Farms can produce 17,000 tonnes of tomatoes each year using 22.5% less land than more traditional field production and uses significantly less water. Having moved its global headquarters from London to Adelaide in 2017, Sundrop is now looking to for opportunities to expand in Australia and abroad now that it has proved the decoupling of traditional greenhouse reliance on fossil fuels and freshwater reserves.
The Repower Port Augusta campaign that attracted a major solar thermal project to the city in 2017 had a disappointing sequel in 2019 when the company behind it withdrew, citing a lack of funding. California-based company SolarReserve had chosen Port Augusta as the site for its Aurora $650 million solar thermal power plant. With the world’s largest single tower, the Aurora plant was to use technology developed by California-based company SolarReserve to store energy in molten salt for eight to 10 hours – an advantage over solar photovoltaic or wind power. Underwriting the project, SolarReserve in 2017 won the contract to supply all the South Australian government’s own energy needs (electrified trains, schools, hospitals) with a solar thermal plant. The project was also given a federal government $110 million concessional equity loan in 2016, in a deal arranged with senator Nick Xenophon. Sited at Carriewerloo Station, the Aurora 150MW plant was to generate 495 gigawatt hours of electricity each year – equivalent to servicing 90,000 homes and around 5% of South Australia’s total needs. The South Australian government was to pay Solar Reserve $75-$78/MWh for power from Aurora. South Australia has no coal-fired power plants since the Northern power station in Port Augusta closed in 2016. After the closure, Repower Port Augusta community group lobbied for the plant to be converted to renewable energy not only for clean energy but also jobs that the project might bring to the town. SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes in the Nevada desert uses an identical technology.
South Australia been the scene for an interplay by two of the world's most prominent corporate renewables warriors. SIMEC ZEN Energy, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, will make Port Augusta the home to the most powerful lithium ion battery in the world at 120MW, eclipsing Jamestown where Elon Musk’s Tesla built its 100MW battery in 2017. The Port Augusta project – part of the company's US$1 billion one‐gigawatt dispatchable renewable energy program in the upper Spencer Gulf – will be helped by a $10 million loan under the Labor state government’s 2017 Renewable Technology Fund. The Port Augusta battery claims more advanced technology than Jamestown's Tesla battery and was being planned before Elon Musk’s Twitter pledge to build his project. The SIMEC ZEN battery will be harnessed to a 280MW solar farm at Cultana, near Whyalla, to give energy security for that city's steelworks taken over by Gupta’s company in 2017. Cultana solar farm (first of two) will have 780,000 solar panels supplying I,600 gigawatt hours of generation per year: enough to power 96,000 homes. A British billionaire, Sanjeev Gupta is expanding the steelworks with a trail-blazing greensteel strategy using renewable energy to lift efficiencies and boost control over its process.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN ENERGY SWITCH GAINS MOMENTUM AND NEW DYNAMICS FROM 2017-18
The beams of South Australian solar energy farm projects – either under way or proposed – continued to spread in 2017-18. A 100MW solar-power battery-ready Tailem Solar project by Equis Energy at Tailem Bend will serve customers of Snowy Hydro, the fourth-biggest retailer in the national electricity market. It will produce enough energy to power 41,600 homes from 2019 and an extra 111MW solar plan is being planned. Tilt Renewables says the Snowtown site of its 44MW solar farm, to accompany a wind farm, has potential for 300MW of solar. Smaller farms such as Peterborough (4.9MW by Renew Power), Port Pirie (6MW, Renew Power) and Whyalla (6MW, SSE) are filling out the South Australian solar scene alongside big projects including Port Augusta region’s 150MW Aurora solar tower and molten salt storage (150MW, Solar Reserve), Bungala (220MW, Enel Green; Dutch Infrastructure Fund), Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park (500Mw, DP Energy); Whyalla’s Cultana (280MW, SIMEC ZEN) and Adani Renewables 140MW propsal; and Crystal Brook Energy Park (150MW, Neoen). Lyon Group’s $700 million Riverland Solar Storage's 330MW near Cadell – promoted as Australia’s biggest – would have 3.4 million solar panels. Lyon is also building the Kingfisher solar farm (100MW) at Roxby Downs.
The South Australian government supported plans in 2018 to develop Australia’s first straw-fuelled power plant near Ardrossan on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. Yorke Biomass Energy, received a $476,000 Renewable Technology Fund grant to look at the plant’s feasibility. The straw-fuelled biomass generator would produce 15MW of power, as well as a new income stream for farmers and additional competition for the power grid. The demonstration project will be near the Ardrossan West substation. Once the Ardrossan project is complete, Yorke Biomass Energy plans to replicate the project across South Australia in remote and off-grid locations, particularly with crop farming and mining. The company has identified 10 locations to produce up to 150MW additional generation in South Australia. Yorke Biomass Energy believes straw power can reduce electricity costs and create economic benefits to rural communities plus help resolve issues between mining and agriculture. It offered side benefits such as soil health, crop rotation and managing weeds plus cutting greenhouse gases and boosting energy security. Biomass fuel is already being used by Thomas Foods in Murray Bridge, Tarac Technologies in Nuriootpa, AR Fuels in Largs Bay and Wingfield; and SA Water treatment plants.
South Australia’s CCT Energy Storage launched the world’s first working thermal battery in 2019. The TED (Thermal Energy Device), battery accepts any form of electrical input to convert and store energy as latent heat. This makes it versatile, affordable and long-lasting. TED can be scaled to power remote communities, businesses, micro grids, rail signalling or telecommunication, as a substitute for diesel generation. CCT Energy Storage originated in 2011 in small factory in the southern Adelaide suburb of Lonsdae when a tenacious group of scientists and engineers began researching, developing and designing a large-scale thermal battery to revolutionise the market for global renewable energy. The cutting-edge technology and its potential grew exponentially which led to Climate Change Technologies being formed as a private South Australian company in 2011 and a working scale prototype in 2012 from more than $6 million in research and development. In 2019, the company's Lonsdale plant was set to make 10 units for commercial customers that year and production expected to rise to 200 by 2020. CCT Energy Storage’s thermal battery's unique phase-change material that stores energy at more than 12 times the energy density of a lead acid battery. The stored energy can be extracted from the thermal battery via a heat engine, to provide an electricity supply when needed. The thermal battery is suitable for renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Climate Change Technologies has found a Swedish partner MIBA Solutions to make and distribute TED in Europe.
AGL Energy, owner of the biggest gas-generation fleet in South Australia, plans to build a major 250MW/2000MWh pumped hydro energy storage project in the former copper mine site at Kanmantoo, 55km south-east of Adelaide. The company in 2019 agreed to pay $31 million for the rights to develop the pumped hydro project at Adelaide Hills mine from Hillgrove Resources, using the existing open mine pit, with a new upper pond to be built nearby. Hillgrove said it identified the chance to use the mine put for pumped hydro in 2017, noting the shift to renewables and the rising cost of gas. The company also had to abandon underground exploration beneath the existing mine pit because of the pumped hydro electrical storage (PHES) system that would be need for the AGL project. To have the hydro energy project ready and operating by 2014, AGL began a multiple stage process, including eliminating any pollution concerns, getting a grid connection and financial investment approval. AGL would buy land required for the project from Hillgrove shortly after a final investment decision. AGL hoped to transform the former mining site into one of the lowest cost electricity storage projects in Australia, when synchronous generation and bulk storage was critically needed. AGL was already building the 210MW fast-start gas peaking plant at Barkers Inlet to reflect the changing energy system. It was expected that if South Australia’s new interconnected link to NSW from Robertstown to Wagga Wagga was built, both AGL’s Torrens Island A and the more modern Torrens Island B gas units would be retired.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMMERCE AND INSTITUTIONS ADJUST TO 21st CENTURY ENERGY POSSIBILITIES
Established South Australian companies Yalumba wines and Coopers brewery led the way with energy-efficiency cost cutting. Yalumba installed a 1.4 MW array of solar panels in Angaston, the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system at an Australian winery. AGL Energy worked with Yalumba to install the panels across Yalumba’s three Angaston sites to produce 2000 MWh of renewable energy and save more than 1100 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and 20% in energy costs.This solar investment adds to Yalumba's moves in irrigation efficiency, soil moisture and planting drought and salinity-tolerant vines. It became the world’s first wine company to receive the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2007. Since 2003, Coopers brewery at Regency Park has used gas turbine-based cogeneration to supply its steam and electricity. Fired with natural gas with thermal efficiency of 80%, the $6.2 million plant produces power that reduces greenhouse gases by 90%. The plant is operated by AGL Energy and is rated at 4.4MW. Generation above the brewery's electrical load of 1.2 MW is fed back into the grid.
Major industrial-scale solar panel phalanxes are being added to Adelaide rooftops, in addition to the 210,000 South Australian households with rooftop solar PV, with total capacity of 720MW. About 20,000 solar photovoltaic panels producing 6MW for eight-hectare roofs of the Tonsley Industrial District main assembly building and TAFE SA building, with a capacity of up to 6MW. Australia’s largest car park rooftop solar feed is from Adelaide Airport’s short-term carpark, adding 1.1MW to the other panels on terminal roofs to supply 10% of the airport’s energy needs. The South Australian Produce Market at Pooraka will team 1600 solar panels and a large lithium ion battery to save stallholders over half a million dollars a year off their power bills. Elizabeth City, Castle Plaza and Kurralta Park shopping centres became part of Australia's largest shopping centre solar installation worth $28 million by Vicinity Centres. About 7300 South Australian businesses had solar PV systems in 2018, with combined capacity of 102MW – roughly equivalent to the capacity of the Tesla battery at Jamestown.
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) in 2018 awarded an eight-year electricity supply contract to renewable energy retailer SIMEC ZEN Energy, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, to bring down electricity costs 20-50% for a consortium of five South Australian businesses: Viterra, Central irrigation Trust, Hillgrove Resources, Foodland Supermarkets and AdChem (Australia). The contract begin in 2019, with SIMEC ZEN to supply renewables from Cultana solar power station, pumped hydro and battery storage in the upper Spencer Gulf. The company also won the South Australian government electricity supply contract in 2017. The SACOME bulk buying consortium was a response to a doubling in electricity costs experienced after the Northern power station closed. the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s gave the green light in to the bulk energy purchase May 2017. The deal enabling SIMEC ZEN to back a definite demand with its anticipated new renewable power generation and thus offer lower pricing. SIMEC ZEN Energy chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the deal offered what South Australia’s energy marked needed: more competition in wholesale generation and retailing. This landmark deal, a first of its kind, is expected to inspire more across Australia.
Based in the Adelaide western suburb of Beverly, Precision Components, previously a tier one supplier to Ford, Toyota and GM Holden, has adapted to life after the end of Australian car making by becoming a founder shareholder of Heliostat South Australia that’s having a global impact in renewable energy industry. Heliostat SA is part of the Fusion Renewables Group with its investment arm Fusion Capital and the University of South Australia, May Brothers and Enersalt. HeliostatSA was born out of Precision’s plan to move from car-component hot stamping and metal pressing to advanced manufacturing and engineering of high-value-add specialised products in emerging markets with like-minded companies and universities. Helped by $1 million from the Australian government under its automotive diversification programme, the company’s vision was realised by taking on the manufacture of a heliostat designed by the CSIRO. Heliostats are computer-controlled mirrors used especially with solar thermal tower technology. This set up HeliostatSA to supply mirrors to SolarReserve’s 150MW Aurora solar thermal plant ready in 2020. But it also has been involved in ventures overseas, including India, Cyprus and Japan.
BHP’s Olympic Dam mine, South Australia's single largest consumer of electricity, was exposed as vulnerable by the October 2016 storm and heatwaves that disrupted production and caused $100 million in lost production. That power cut lasted two weeks. BHP was within 10 minutes of molten metal freezing in its smelter. This potentially would have required the plant plant to be replaced, curbing metal exports for between 12 and 18 months and costing about $3 billion. The miner lost power more briefly again in November 2016. In 2015, BHP had asked for a more reliable grid connection than the 275kV line at end of the grid via Port Augusta. In 2009, BHP Billiton defined its typical annual electricity consumption as 870,000 MWh (or 125 MW) and its needs were likely grow by 20% with mine expansion. BHP is investing about $US2.1 billion to lift Olympic Dam name-plate copper production from the rarely achieved 200,000 tonnes a year to 330,000 by 2023. The other big and expanding Gawler Craton mine operator is Oz Minerals. It is moving to double its South Australian mine fleet and copper production.Concerns over power availability and security for the these far north ventures may force the need for their own power plant.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA MOVING FROM IMPORTER TO EXPORTER; RENEWABLES PRICE EFFECT KICKING IN