South Australia marches on with pumped hydro, PV-plus-storage and commercial microgrid projects

(REPOST: Energy Storage News)

Energy storage in the state of South Australia has continued its prolific pace of development with the announcement of two new grid-scale projects and a sizeable commercial and industrial (C&I) installation.

In addition to the announcement of a 1350MWh pumped hydro energy storage plant, a 26MWh battery facility at a solar farm and a 4.2MWh battery system at a large produce market, this week state Premier Jay Weatherill claimed Tesla’s recently-awarded 675MWh virtual power plant project would create some 500 jobs for the region over four years.

Weatherill said that the Tesla VPP could create 250 jobs during installation of 50,000 residential Powerwall 2s and the same number again in the supply chain for the whole project. Tesla will also create a service hub where local technicians can monitor performance of the batteries and of the company’s EV charger networks.

With state elections upcoming in March, Weatherill has nailed his colours and that of his Labor Party to the renewable energy mast. Electricity prices are high, the population and grid dispersed over long distances and there is plenty of sunshine.

Along with supporting the development of rooftop solar, this has led to the deployment of a 129MWh lithium-ion battery in response to blackout events on the grid, the entrance of big players in the C&I market and the creation of a AU$150 million technology fund - which led to Tesla being awarded that VPP project. Rival party the Liberals pledged to financially support a shift to renewables, particularly household battery storage, but were criticised by solar trade groups for proposing to scrap renewables targets.

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