SA power: Elon Musk's Tesla proposal for battery storage has rival in Zen Energy
Summary: Tesla boss Elon Musk grabbed headlines with his pitch to solve South Australia's energy crisis by building a battery storage farm.....
However, far from Silicon Valley there are a string of other companies waiting in the wings — and South Australian-based renewable energy company Zen Energy could beat Mr Musk to it.
As part of a grand plan to solve South Australia's electricity woes, the State Government wants to entice the private sector into building Australia's largest energy storage battery by next summer.
It's offering up $150 million to subsidise 100 megawatts of storage.
Zen Energy has already been developing plans for a $100 million solar plant with 100 megawatts of battery storage, based in the Upper Spencer Gulf.
Chairman Ross Garnaut said the Government's intention brought its plan closer to fruition.
"The Government says it wants it in place by next summer and we're ready to put it in place by next summer," Professor Garnaut said.
"And if we're to avoid a repeat of the instability we had in the past summer, we need it in place before December.
"We can install our battery in less than three months, but that's not all you have to do, there's a lot more.
"That means the Government process will have to be a short one or there just won't be time."
Professor Garnaut is the economist behind the 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to study of the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy.
Zen Energy will still need to compete for the Government tender — it's likely several companies have their eyes on it.
Zen Energy focussing on struggling region
Professor Garnaut said his company's proposal would create hundreds of jobs during construction, in a region struggling with economic hardship.
"The main centre of the battery will be at Port Augusta," Professor Garnaut said.
"We'll have large scale solar in Whyalla and Port Pirie."
Zen Energy has already claimed its plan could "solve most" of the state's energy woes, but benefit the entire national grid.
"The battery in a way is the simplest part of the system," Professor Garnaut said.
"You've got a control system that governs the interaction of the battery with the grid, with the incoming renewable energy.
"We look forward to the time that the culmination of our work contributes to South Australia being a low-energy cost state in Australia.
"And in a world in which the whole world is moving towards high renewables."
Carnegie keen to supply SA battery needs
Carnegie Clean Energy, a West Australian company, is also keen to supply South Australia with energy storage.
Chief executive Michael Ottaviano said the state's battery plan was an opportunity for it to create jobs and an energy storage industry.
"We've got a proven capability and we can certainly deliver what the SA Government and the SA people need to secure their energy supply," he told 7.30.
"Nobody in Australia has built anything close to that, it'd be one of the world's — if not the world's — biggest utility battery.
"When you look at a battery storage system and break it down, it's the same individual components that we have here, just simply more of them assembled together, so what we'll be talking about is about 40 of these systems [that I'm standing in front of now] being deployed into SA."