Energy Disaster in South Australia opens golden opportunity.
South Australia’s energy grid has taken a battering recently. Firstly there were a series of terrific storms over a few months, with enough force to physically blow down several pylons. Then there was a period lasting more than a month with soaring temperatures more than 40 degrees every day. Black outs ensued - the grid was not able to cope and millions of people got roasted in the dark.
Part of the problem is the privatisation of the power industry in Australia - essentially if it had been centralised then other backups could have been implemented quickly.
South Australia did away with coal fired plants forever in 2016, with a large portion of is generation being taken up by wind (43%) and solar. Unfairly, these technologies were blamed for the outage, when in fact it was largely a physical problem with the lines themselves (they fell over).
Elon Musk came up with an audacious plan to deliver 100-300 Megawatts of centralised battery storage, to be installed in 100 days. Sounds crazy, but no worse than building your own rockets to Mars. History suggests he can probably pull it off. This would be a new thing,to install a battery bank large enough to stabilise a whole state and it could shake up global expectations of what is practical and achievable in this area.
Centralised battery storage is the most obvious way for power utilities around the world to stay relevant as the solar revolution gathers pace. As I wrote in an earlier post, tiny Alpine Energy in Timaru actually already does this on a more modest scale. Daytime generation is stored in a room sized Lithium battery and released at peak evening times.
It looks like the SA state government is going to go ahead with Musk or another battery provider, but rather than take the bold step of using more and newer solar systems to provide power generation, they decided to implement a yesteryear gas fired plant. It’s a bit like going back to using analog phones or black and white television; but the power instability is doing wonders for the domestic solar industry over there, where ordinary citizens can own their own power plant and battery bank and be fully independent if there are future blackouts.