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To Fix Power Crisis, New Gas Plant, Batteries Tapped By South Australia

To Fix Power Crisis, New Gas Plant, Batteries Tapped By South Australia
Just four days after Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk offered to save the state from blackouts by installing large-scale battery storage, a A$510 million ($385 million) to keep the lights on was outlined by South Australia, the country's most renewable-energy dependent state.
The development of a 100 megawatts of battery storage, possibly from Musk or from local providers, wd be encouraged by A$150 million of the plan. And to stabilize its electricity system, a new A$360 million 250-megawatt gas power plant would also be built and operated by the state.
Homes and businesses were left in the dark for up to eight hours and some industries were paralyze for up to two weeks after a state-wide blackout last September during a storm and the South Australia government came up with the emergency plan following that disaster.
"Today, South Australia takes hold of its energy future. We have a national electricity market which is failing not only South Australia but failing the nation," state Premier Jay Weatherill said in a statement.
As it does not have enough back-up power when the wind is not blowing, the state has become vulnerable to outages and soaring prices and it relies on wind for about a third of its power capacity.
As it was making losses, and France's Engie SA mothballed one of two units at a gas-fired power plant for the same reason, South Australia's last coal-fired power station shut down last May.
Weatherill said he was speaking to a range of providers on the batteries front.
"We want as much local content as possible," he told a news conference. "We also need to put in the balance the reputational effect of attracting an international player of the size of Elon Musk to South Australia."
Four days ago, Tesla chief, Musk offered to supply 100 megawatt-hours of batteries for $25 million within 100 days of signing a contract, or provide it free following which Australian tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes said he would help raise funding and political support for the offer and Weatherill spoke to Musk on Saturday after Cannon-Brookes’ comments.
"Over the coming days Tesla are assessing with stakeholders how best to deliver on this exciting opportunity for the benefit of the Australian energy market," a Tesla spokesman said.
To find ways to boost gas supply, crucial for power plants and manufacturers, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for a meeting with the heads of Australia's gas producers and South Australia released its plan a day ahead of that crisis meetingof the Prime Minister.
But saying it could drive up power prices and undermine national electricity market rules, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg slammed South Australia's plan.
While warning it could have "pricing implications" and affect expansion plans, the state's effort to boost energy security was welcomed by top global miner BHP Billiton, which lost $105 million at its Olympic Dam copper mine after the blackout last September.
"South Australian business and residents cannot afford a repeat of the energy issues experienced over the past eight months, and we look forward to immediate steps being taken which will provide greater energy security for the State before the end of the year," a BHP Billiton spokesman said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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