The government of South Australia has announced a radical plan that it says will enhance energy security and put downward pressure on prices.
Premier Jay Weatherill announced in March that his government would draft legislation giving new ministerial powers over the operation of the energy market. It will also create an energy security target and incentivise the production of natural gas in the state.
The six-point plan also proposes the construction of a 100 MW battery energy storage facility and a government-owned 250 MW natural gas-fired power plant.
Weatherill said that South Australians had been let down by “a broken national energy market” and that the plan would enable the state to take back control.
Creation of the plan follows a major state-wide blackout in South Australia in September 2016.
The blackout was the result of a fault in the grid caused by a severe storm but the event raised question marks over Australia’s energy policy and the pursuit of ambitious renewable energy targets in South Australia.
“We’re taking charge of our energy future with a plan that will deliver South Australian power for South Australians,” said Weatherill. “Our plan will restore security and put downward pressure on prices.
“We’ll get reliable, affordable and clean power and ensure more of the State’s power is sourced, generated and controlled here in South Australia. Our State has built its reputation on clean, green environment and this plan recognises that clean energy is our future.
“South Australia will now lead our nation’s transformation to the next generation of renewable storage technologies and create an international reputation for high-tech industries.”
The South Australian government immediately opened a two-week window for receiving expressions of interest to build the battery project, which would be the largest of its kind in Australia.
It will be funded by a new, A$150 million Renewable Technology Fund and should be operational “this summer”, according to a government statement. It will be owned and operated by the private sector.
The government’s proposed gas-fired power plant would provide emergency back-up and system stability services. Weatherill said the government would “go to tender shortly” in order to “have the generator in place as soon as possible”.
In the intervening period, the state government will work with South Australia’s transmission and distribution companies to provide up to 200 MW of temporary generation, it said.