South Australia Leads the Way in Energy Storage Integration

Written by Mary Hendriks, on March 26, 2018

The following article was published in the March 2018 issue of AIE Energy News magazine:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)’s recent report Energy Storage Forecast 2017-30 lists Australia as “one of eight countries expected to lead the massive boom in global energy storage uptake.” Within Australia, the leading state at this point is South Australia.

With its last coal-fired power station now closed and over 40% of electricity now sourced from wind and solar, South Australia is at the forefront of the transition to clean energy. Driving this transition is the SA Government, through several mechanisms including the Battery Storage and Renewable Technology Fund1.

The world’s current largest lithium battery (100MW/129MWh battery), the Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR), is now operational at Jamestown, SA. These energy storage systems from Tesla are paired with the Neoen Wind farm and set the bar for future grid scale battery storage solutions globally.

South Australia was already an emerging energy storage leader when this was implemented on 1 December 2017.

In 2017, the Adelaide Art Gallery turned on its 64KWh battery, installed by SIMEC ZEN Energy and supported by an initiative of the City of Adelaide – an initiative soon to be extended to the State Library and the Adelaide High School.

Earlier in 2017, AGL launched their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to aggregate output from battery storage units alongside solar PV. This followed a separate 100 unit VPP pilot by SA Power Networks, also in Adelaide, to assess whether this might avoid expensive network infrastructure upgrades.

South Australian regional areas have also seen the need for integration of hybrid energy systems, including energy storage, to manage local power and reduce use of diesel fuels.  The hybrid solar, wind and battery system (1MW/250kWh) for SA’s opal mining town of Cooper Pedy was fully operational by end of 2017, with support from ARENA. This system now enables the town to derive most of their energy from renewable sources.

South Australia is positioned to be at the forefront of storage solutions. Recently-announced projects include:

  • SolarReserve’s Aurora Solar plant powered by concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) to be located in Port Augusta, will be a world-class site and is likely to be the biggest of its kind on completion. This 150MW plant uses mirrors and solar power to heat molten salts and generate electricity and provide an estimated 6-8 hours of storage. Development application was recently approved and by 2020, this will provide 100% of the South Australian government electricity load, as well feeding into the broader market2.
  • A 30MW/8MWh lithium battery at the Dalrymple Substation is being built and will be operated by ElectraNet with private investment and some support from ARENA. This is located on the Yorke Peninsula, and is expected to provide multiple services, including reducing constraints on the Heywood interconnector with Victoria.
  • A 2.9MWh battery storage system planned for the Coles Edinburgh Distribution Centre, powered by a 5.7MW solar PV system, to be developed by Schneider Electric and Planet Ark Power, with funding through the SA Renewable Technology Fund.
  • Plans for a world-leading VPP with a proposed roll-out of 50,000 systems, beginning with a trial of battery and solar systems at 1,100 Housing Trust properties, financed through electricity sales.

The SA government is actively supporting Australian energy storage innovation, including a proposed thermal storage project at the Glenelg Waste Water Treatment Plant by innovators at 1414 Degrees. The project is expected to include 0.25MW/10MWh of thermal storage, held from the combustion of biogas produced on site.

Innovative pumped hydro solutions are positioned to be part of the energy storage solutions in Australia. The outcome of an ARENA-funded feasibility study by EnergyAustralia and partners ARUP and Melbourne Energy Institute for a pumped hydro energy storage project using seawater from the Spencer Gulf, called the Cultana seawater pumped hydro project, will be of strong interest across Australia3.

Another proposed pumped hydro storage facility in a disused iron ore mine will be built by the newly formed consortium, GFG Alliance, formed from Liberty OneSteel and Zen Energy. This would be in addition to the planned 100MW/100MWh battery storage to provide dispatchable renewables for steel manufacturing in Whyalla. This development in South Australia is just the first of several industrial renewable power generation sites proposed for Australia to incorporate energy storage and demand management4.

In the introduction to the South Australian Energy Plan, Premier Jay Weatherill, noted that “this plan recognises that clean energy is our future. We will now lead Australia’s transformation to the next generation of renewable storage technologies and create an international reputation for high-tech emerging industries”.

With more announcements daily, the projects listed are just a snapshot of the energy storage solutions being proposed for South Australia. (ed: Note that there was a change of Government in South Australia shortly after this article was written.) It is definitely a state to watch as these projects emerge.


  1. Battery Storage and Renewable Technology Fund (BSRTF): 
  2. Simon Holmes a Court  article on Aurora in RenewEconomy:
  3. Cultana Pumped Hydo Project: about-us/energy-generation/energy-projects/pumped-hydro
  4. Whyalla steel city goes green with 1GW of solar and storage: