Diverse energy mix to support South Australia: The Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP

South Australia needs to be more self-reliant and have more generation to secure its needs, South Australian Minister for Energy and Treasurer, the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP has told a CEDA audience.

Speaking at an Energy series event in Adelaide, Mr Koutsantonis discussed the recent South Australian Government's policy measures aimed at insulating the state from the recent spate of damaging blackouts.

“Storage is going to be a very exciting part of our transition to a low-carbon future,” he said.

“We will build Australia’s largest battery. This battery will be owned and operated by the private sector using funding from the Clean Energy Finance Cooperation.

“This will not be a government run battery; this will be run by the private sector.

“The government will contract…and be able to call on the battery when AEMO tell us there is a lack of reserve in the grid.

“Once given ample notice we will be able to enact our contract with this battery, tell this battery to pull out of the national electricity market, start charging (and) be ready to dispatch.

“A practical example of this would be during a heatwave.”

Mr Koutsantonis said expressions of interests for the project had now closed, with 90 expressions of interest from 10 countries many of which had practical experience.

“We’re (also) going to build our own gas-fire generator. This has caused a great deal of controversy, probably the most controversial part of the entire plan,” he said.

“This generator will offer inertia to the system.

“This generation has multiple facets; it has batteries in-built that can turn turbines just past friction offering the market and the grid inertia which of course helps stabilise our grid, making our renewable energy so much more reliable and safer.

“And of course it has the ability to fast start.”

Mr Koutsantonis also discussed the importance of gas for the state in regards to the energy mix.

“Anyone who wants to incentivise coal (in South Australia) is really working against us because we are a state that has abundant resources of gas,” he said.

“We are a gas state, make no mistake.

“Coal was…about a quarter of the mix.

“As you know the Port Augusta power station closed last year. Coal is no longer an option in South Australia, and you have seen a lot of that capacity taken up by renewable energy.

“But gas is overwhelmingly still a large part of that mix in South Australia, and we want to see that remain because gas is the transitional fuel…to a low carbon future.”

In terms of supply, Mr Koutsantonis said they were going to encourage more exploration of gas in South Australia, with nearly $50 million being spent in PACE grants to help local companies complete that exploration.

Gas produced from these new sites would firstly be offered to South Australian generators, then to manufacturing and industry, then to South Australian domestic users and once all parties had been satisfied, it could then be exported, he said.

Also speaking at the event was Professor Ross Garnaut AO, Chair, Zen Energy who discussed the opportunities for South Australia in the emerging global energy economy.

“It just so happens to be much cheaper to produce renewable energy in South Australia than the other Australian states and in Australia than any other developed country,” he said.

“If we play our cards right, develop the right business models…then this will be the natural home not only of hydrogen and ammonia but of a very wide range of energy using industries of the future.

“Korea is committed to going towards a zero emissions economy but it doesn’t have sun and wind like South Australia does and they saw that the solution may be to make hydrogen out of Australian renewable energy and…make their energy from imported hydrogen.

“This is just one of the energy intensive industries that will make Australia and especially South Australia home if we utilise our excellent renewable energy resources.

“In a world which…is going towards zero emissions…renewable energy is going to play a very big part in all our energy systems.”

Professor Frank Bruno, Leader of the Thermal Energy Storage Group, University of South Australia also spoke at the event and discussed work that the university had undertaken on the renewable electricity grid and the clean energy future including reducing energy and peak loads in buildings.