SA Govt turns to batteries to power state

Posted March 17, 2017

Australia is now exporting twice as much gas to Asia as it consumes locally and struggling to meet domestic demands as it honors long-term supply contracts to Asian buyers. "Speaking with Sky News, he said it came as a "$550 million admission of failure" on part of the Weatherill government.

The growing divide between state and federal governments over energy security is worsening angst among Australian companies over rising energy bills.

Mr Frydenberg stood awkwardly next to the South Australian leader while he delivered his spray.

The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy said the strategy had energy reliability at its core and would help businesses remain nationally and globally competitive.

Australia's power supply problems made global headlines last week when Tesla Inc. boss Elon Musk offered to save South Australia, the country's most renewable-energy dependent state, from blackouts by installing large-scale battery storage.

Turnbull has left no doubt over who he deems responsible for the debacle and which sector holds the key to a solution: "Unfortunately state and territory bans are putting at risk thousands of jobs by stopping the development of our gas reserves even by conventional means, the only sustainable way to guarantee affordable gas reserves is through the responsible development of our gas", the Prime Minister said.

"At best, it makes it hard for these companies to invest and plan with such high and uncertain gas prices and with considerable supply uncertainty". That will be more heavily shaped by decisions in other States and at the national level.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association's South Australia director Matthew Doman said the plan recognised the contribution gas could make.

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The South Australian Liberal party has not responded to the plan yet.

Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg and South Australian premier Jay Weatherill have come to blows in an awkward exchange over the nation's energy woes.

The project, to be financed by South Australia's newly-created $150 million Renewable Technology Fund, will seek to have bidders provider a battery that must have a capacity of approximately 100MW and be operational in time for next summer. The state depends on renewable energy more than any other in the country, and several widespread blackouts (including one affecting the entire state) have put the pressure on and given the federal government cannon fodder to talk up their plan which includes a lower reliance on renewable energy. "Over the next fortnight, we'll test the market to hear what national and global companies have to offer", added Weatherill.

Power company AGL doesn't appear concerned, calling SA's proposal a "considered and comprehensive approach" to challenges in the market.

At the same time, renewable energy has not been put aside.

On Tuesday, Mr Weatherill announced his government would spend $500m to build 250-megawatt gas-fired power plant.

He said the industry wanted to see restrictions around new gas developments removed to help boost supply.

"We should have a government-owned solar thermal plant".