South Australia has been dealing with an energy crisis since last fall when a massive storm blew threw the state. Recovery is still ongoing and their power grid continues to suffer from blackouts, something that the community is actually pinning on wind farms. Despite new gas power plants that are in the works, experts believe it’s only a matter of time before South Australia mostly relies on renewable energy.
The latest massive blackout happened back in February when a heat wave forced many to use more energy at longer times. Green energy didn’t get a good reputation a month later when the Australian Energy Market Operator released a report that blamed wind farms for the power issues throughout the state. The wicked storm shut down nine of 13 turbines at the Hornsdale Wind Farm at the time, pulling a large chunk of capacity out and leaving many without electricity.
Wind generation wasn’t the problem itself. In fact, it was the facility not being ready to undertake such a problem. Around 20 different recommendations were listed on the report, such as improving the Victoria interconnector that is supposed to pull extra energy when a disaster like this happens. Instead, it was triggered offline when such a demand was needed. Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said in The Advertiser that this emphasizes the need for “reliable electricity,” explaining:
“The report makes clear that the statewide blackout would not have occurred if the wind farms had ridden through a number of voltage disturbances across the network. Importantly it was the “settings” within the majority of the wind farms which meant they could not ride through the voltage disturbance caused by the storm.”
All of this has driven the creation of new gas facilities and replacing older sections at this stage. However, researchers predict that it’s only a matter of time before battery technology gets cheaper to make renewables sources more reliable than they currently are. According to The Guardian, Wood Mackenzie and Greentech Media Research expect to see battery manufacturing costs to be slashed in half by 2025.
South Australia will be getting a significant ramp-up in battery storage later this year. Elon Musk is thrilled about installing the world’s biggest battery at the Hornsdale Wind Farm. It will feature 100 megawatts of capacity and 129 megawatt-hours of generation. Batteries will be there in case the turbines are not generating enough power for the residents.
Further research indicates that in order to fulfill all of the state’s needs, energy generation at 1,600 megawatt-hours would be necessary. A direct comparison to the battery facility Tesla is installing indicates that it’s pretty far off from that number, but the Powerpack is mostly for emergency purposes. As more battery facilities are installed, that will essentially make gas obsolete as energy can be pulled out when needed. Should this trend continue, 2025 would see 67 percent of the state’s energy running on renewables.