South Australians could be rewarded with lower energy prices from December 1 once the world's largest lithium battery is installed on a grazing property at Hornsdale, near Jamestown.
Under an agreement between French renewable energy company Neoen, United States-based sustainable energy company Telsa and the state government, the 1000-megawatt battery system will be installed within 100 days, or provided for free to the SA government.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the battery project would be a key pillar of the $550-million plan to take charge of SA’s energy future.
“It will operate at all times, providing stability services to the SA grid, which both Tesla and Neoen have said will lower prices for South Australians,” he said.
“Neoen, who own the wind farm near Jamestown, will also sell the battery's surplus capacity to the market, adding competition and putting downward pressure on power prices.”
The energy storage systems will be built on three hectares of Paul and Bill Stacey’s 4655ha station, where an existing energy substation already covers 15ha.
On Tuesday last week, the Staceys were given 24 hours to make a decision on accepting the offer to build the battery on their land.
Paul said a lot of family discussion surrounded where the batteries would be located and whether more land would be required for future expansion.
“We wanted to know because we did not want them in the middle of a paddock or somewhere that will impact us," he said.
“It was too good of an opportunity really because I wanted to drought-proof the farm and make sure even in a dry season, my son had an income."
Weighing up the benefits
The battery will be paired with Neoen's Hornsdale 99-turbine wind farm, but Northern Areas Council mayor Denis Clark said about 200 turbines were operating in the council area.
“The infrastructure, as far as wind generation goes, is there so it makes sense the battery came next and I think more battery systems could be built in the future," he said.
Mr Clark believes the construction phase of the battery system could present employment opportunities for the district, as well as economic gains for small businesses and surrounding towns.
But the local impact on roads has been an issue since the region’s first wind farm was built 10 years ago.
"We could not have dreamed the impact it was going to have on our roads where the main haulage was entering in," Mr Clark said.
He would like upgrades to health services if more large-scale projects were planned for the council area.
Opposition energy spokesperson Dan van Holst Pellekaan welcomed the announcement but was concerned why the government had not released project details or the final cost to the taxpayer.
“The state Opposition called for the government to attach grid-scale battery storage to renewable energy generators for two years,” he said.
“I would like more batteries installed because the root cause of the energy crisis we have in SA is that the government has given permission for too many wind farms that relied on intermittent, unreliable electricity but we need to see if this one works first.
“I am also disappointed the Premier announced his battery plan and did not tell the people of SA about his $110m taxpayer spend on diesel generators.”