13 March, 2017
Courtesy of the Australian
Adelaide-based battery storage company Zen Energy will join forces with oil and gas producer Santos to integrate large-scale solar and battery storage with natural gas-based generation.
The partnership comes as the South Australian government announces a new energy plan on Tuesday, and after billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk last week said his company could provide 100 megawatts of battery storage for South Australia within 100 days and if not, it would be free.
His bold statement prompted separate talks over the weekend between Mr Musk, Malcolm Turnbull and SA Premier Jay Weatherill.
Since then a number of other solar companies have indicated they could also provide battery storage facilities and have them up and running before the end of this year.
Local investor Lyon Solar is already working with a US company on a 200-250MW battery project in the state, which it hopes to have installed before next summer.
“South Australia is the global epicentre for the imminent take-off of large-scale battery-based energy storage, which can solve power challenges like SA’s in months, not years,” Lyon partner David Green said.
But Zen Energy says it has “designed and defined” the means of delivering large-scale solar power generation supported by battery storage in the Upper Spencer Gulf, as a basis for a retail electricity business.
Santos will bring to the partnership its corporate strength in the gas supply chain.
Zen Energy chief executive Geoff Titus said the preparatory work on the grid-level battery integration had been completed, allowing the project to be implemented in time to play a “major role” in the stabilisation of South Australian electricity supply next summer.
“Over the past 15 months, we have determined what is required for large-scale solar together with battery storage to add the greatest value to electricity users in South Australia,” he said.
“We are delighted to be in partnership with Santos to revolutionise the South Australian energy market.”
Santos managing director and chief executive Kevin Gallagher said the partnership would deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to South Australia.
“Natural gas is between 50 and 70 per cent cleaner than coal, making it an essential part of our transition to a clean economy,” he said.
“It is also the most flexible fuel for baseload power, filling current gaps in renewable power generation.
“By backing up solar and battery power with natural gas, we will provide South Australia’s largest energy users with reliable, cost-effective and secure energy, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions.
The partnership also provided a chance for Santos to introduce solar energy into gas processing and transport operations in South Australia and Queensland, which the company hoped will lower production costs and free up gas for release into the domestic Australian market.