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South Australia seeks proposals for renewables projects

South Australia (SA) has issued three calls for proposals for renewables projects to help it boost generation and address intermittency in the state's power supply.31 Aug 2017

The SA government has asked for proposals on 'firming' renewables projects that will be incorporated into existing wind and solar developments to make them more stable, as well as for bulk energy storage solutions, and for bioenergy projects.  

Projects will be funded from the state's A$150 million ($119 million) Renewable Technology Fund. The fund is made up of A$75 million ($59 million) in grant funding and A$75 million in loans or other forms of investment or assistance for eligible projects, the state said. An unspecified portion of the fund has already been dedicated to plans for a grid-scale battery storage project.

State premier Jay Weatherill said: "We’ll soon be home to the world’s largest lithium ion battery at Jamestown and the ground-breaking solar thermal project at Port Augusta. Now we’re looking for the next generation of renewable technologies and demand management technologies to maintain our global leadership."

Energy expert Anthony Arrow of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The announcement reinforces South Australia's commitment to both clean energy and importantly energy security."

"Combining renewable energy capacity with technology such as battery storage is a vital component of the future energy mix in Australia. This latest round of grants and funding will ensure that the participants in the battery storage market in Australia continue to expand their operations and enhance their experience and expertise with our electricity market, which over time should serve to drive down prices and improve efficiency, hopefully leading to commercially sustainable energy prices for consumers and industry," Arrow said.

SA suffered state-wide power blackouts last year when transmission system faults were caused by extreme weather.

Australia's chief scientist said in June that the country must adopt a single, nationally agreed plan to manage its national electricity market (NEM) and to help the transition to lower emissions.

Australia is at a "critical turning point", the chief scientist said, and needs to take action immediately to ensure its energy supplies for the future.

The security and reliability of the country's electricity supply has been compromised by "poorly integrated variable renewable electricity generators, including wind and solar", the report said, coinciding with the unplanned withdrawal of older coal and gas-fired generators.