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Energy storage project proposals sought for South Australia’s AUS$150m renewables fund

Tesla Powerpack energy storage units. Tesla’s 100MW / 129MWh South Australia project will be one recipient of cash from the Renewable Technology Fund. Image: Tesla.

The government of Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia, has just formally launched three Calls for Proposals under the AUS$150 million (US$118.5 million) Renewable Technology Fund, a programme to foster private investment and accelerate project development in clean energy technologies.

On Tuesday, Weatherill’s office issued a statement that the first three opportunities under the fund are now open to would-be developers of projects that can help deliver “clean, reliable and affordable power”.

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The opening of the fund itself was announced back in March. It consists of AUS$75 million to be awarded in grant funding and AUS$75 million in loans or investment assistance of other kinds. An unspecified portion of the AUS$150 million total has already been earmarked to go towards paying for Tesla and Neoen’s much-talked about grid-scale battery project.

The fund is intended to “catalyse” investments from the private sector into integrating clean energy technologies like renewables and demand side measures, to foster coordination and cooperation on investment opportunities in the space with national agencies ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) and Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC) and generally accelerate the uptake of renewable and clean energy technologies while increasing competition in the energy market.

The three areas of focus for the initial Call for Proposals, to which applicants have until 5pm on 28 September to respond are:

  • Renewable energy firming – projects that can help the integration of renewables onto the grid and make energy available ‘on demand’ i.e. dispatchable. These firming projects should be scalable and replicable throughout the state. This could include the addition of energy storage, synchronous inertia or fast frequency response.  
  • Bulk energy storage – this Call for Proposals asks applicants to put forward plans to develop significant amounts of energy storage. It calls for either renewable projects with associated energy storage developments, or simply a plan that could deploy 400MWh of energy storage in the state. Project ideas should, as in the case of firming projects, be scalable and replicable and help attract investment.
  • Bioenergy – the final call of the three is for a large-scale dispatchable bioenergy plant for the state.

Jay Weatherill said that his government is “looking for the next generation of renewable technologies and demand management technologies to maintain our global leadership [in renewable energy technology”.

“We want to support innovative companies and entrepreneurs in a state that is nurturing cutting-edge technology. I can’t wait to see some of the exciting projects which are accelerated as a result of investments from our Renewable Technology Fund,” Weatherill said.

Meanwhile Weatherill’s colleague, treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the state enjoys “abundant renewable energy resources” and mentioned the rapid, “exponential” pace at which the technology is advancing.

“We have an opportunity to create investment and jobs in this space in South Australia for generations to come. Above all else, our aim is to deliver clean, reliable and affordable power for all South Australians,” Koutsantonis said.

Tesla's 100MW battery is not the only large-scale storage project already underway in the state. Just last week a 8MW / 30MWh project was approved in Adelaide at an existing substation site, while in March Energy-Storage.News reported that renewable energy investor Lyon Group is building 330MW of solar PV with a 100MW/400MWh lithium-ion battery system.

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