Marshall feels blow-back as Tesla battery comments hit raw nerve

Marshall feels blow-back as Tesla battery comments hit raw nerve

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New premier Steve Marshall is feeling the heat for placing the future of Tesla’s battery plans in doubt. Maybe now he will go the whole hog and target nearly 100,000 homes with storage.

Source: AAP
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Newly elected South Australia premier Steven Marshall is discovering it is not an easy switch between political rhetoric and actual policy – particularly in energy.

Marshall’s comments on Monday  – just minutes before his swearing in – that the Tesla virtual power plant, the biggest planned aggregated installation of solar and battery storage in the world, was not part of his agenda has touched a raw nerve.

It was the focus of his first press conference after his swearing in, sparked questions on ABC’s Q&A, and provoked such interest and outrage on RenewEconomy’s platform, and social media, that Marshall’s team had no choice but to take note.

Look at this response on Facebook.

It reached more than 150,000 people. (RenewEconomy’s post did similar numbers), which is more than 10 per cent of the voting population in South Australia. Their reaction?

Love: 0.5%
Ha Ha: 1%
Wow: 11%
Sad: 15%
Angry: 73%

Already, it has prompted Marshall’s team to reassure the community that no contracts written by the previous Labor government would be broken.

This (as we wrote on Monday) at least guarantees the future of the first two stages of this Tesla virtual power plant project (1,100 out of 50,000 homes) and softens concerns for other projects like the Snowtown solar and storage project, and the huge renewable hydrogen hubs.

(Marshall’s advisors were also on the phone to RE – not to contest the story, but to say hi, we do get it, and that we should watch this space. Trust us, we are).

Marshall’s comments to the ABC on Monday were instinctive. For years he has been programmed to say that whatever Labor suggested must be bad, just like the 75 per cent renewable energy target.

But his team, and Marshall should now learn, the campaign is over. And like that 75 per cent renewables target, and the 25 per cent renewables storage target that went with it, the Tesla big battery is something that could, and should, happen anyway.

Just think about it. The initial contract to provide a mere $2 million grant, and a $30 million loan, costs the government little, and will initiate the rollout of 5kW rooftop solar systems and 13.5kWh Powerwall 2 battery system into 1,100 homes, and then be expanded to 50,000 at no further cost to the government.

One of the beauties of the scheme is that the idea is to attract private investment, and more importantly a new retailer to a market in desperate need of more competition. That can only be done in a political  environment that is not hostile to such initiatives, because investors want certainty.

The Tesla plan has multiple other benefits too. The aggregated nature of a “virtual power plant” means that the 250MW capacity, and 650MWh of storage from those 50,000 homes can be harnessed to provide grid services, and to provide an extra resource if supplies get tight.

But it will also reduce demand from the grid – a benefit for any network seeing increasing growth in renewables – and providing a facility to store much of the output rather than having it flood back into the market when it is not needed.

And it will lower prices – not just for those who need it most, the low income households that are the targeted beneficiaries of this scheme and who have hitherto been largely left out of this transition – but to all energy users.

And there is nothing to stop Marshall going ahead with his own party’s plans for a government subsidy targeted at 40,000 middle income households that already have rooftop solar.

The offer of a grant of $2,500 means that it will only likely be taken up by those with the cash, or access to borrowing, to pay for the balance, or to install rooftop solar if the do not have it already.

And that would be a signature achievement.

In four years time, you can imagine South Australia with more than 90,000 homes with both solar and storage – from the Tesla plan, the Liberals plan and even the AGL virtual power plant, now using Tesla and LG Chem for its 1,000 household rollout.

It would address one of the biggest challenges for the operators of the grid – rooftop solar in South Australia is expected to grow so quickly, that by 2025 the output of rooftop solar would exceed the state’s minimum grid demand.

With these plans, the problems are solved.

We expect that Marshall’ team, and the team to be put together by new energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, will be getting this message from market operators, grid operators, the battery storage developers like Tesla, and the software providers urging them to link their subsidy plan so it, too, can be a virtual power plant.

So once the new government is settled into its role, common sense will prevail, political battles buried, and a way found forward. It would be quite stunning if they weren’t.

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  1. Joe 3 years ago

    I had to keep reading over the last line in the article. Hoping that SA Govt. will act quite differently to what the Federal COALition have been doing for over 10 years now. I can’t see it happening, the Marshall would be backtracking on what he has been saying up until the just held election. But of course the Marshall is going to take all the credit for the completed RE projects that ex-Premier Jay started.

    • John Saint-Smith 3 years ago

      The more renewable energy projects which survive the Marshall plan (or lack thereof) the more the people will be reminded that the only good things happening in S. Australia will be those that were initiated by the Wetherill Labor government, and they just might ask themselves why they bothered switching.

      At the end of the day though, its the cheaper, cleaner, more reliable and weather-proof energy grid that matters, not who takes the credit for it.

      • CMCNestT . 3 years ago

        All Marshall has to do is reconfigure the program with superficial changes and memorable phrases. Then take full credit saying he fixed the original flawed proposal.

  2. Peter F 3 years ago

    One advantage for the SA government is that there is no coal industry to protect and no-one on God’s earth would put up the money to restart it.
    Over the next six months to a year they will probably come to the realisation that the main beneficiary of a new interconnector will be NSW so why should the poorer little guy spend money to help out the much richer more arrogant big guy

    • ben 3 years ago

      Also the only coal we have is low thermal value brown coal.

      • mick 3 years ago

        also even if they start up leigh creek at tax payer expense the power station has been sufficiently dismantled as to take years (modern environmentals) the build time would be too long especially given there is little social licence

        • John Mills 3 years ago

          Leigh Creek was just about empty. And besides they are already well into the reclamation of the mine site at Leigh Creek – i.e. covering up and filling in the pit with the overburden soil that was removed in the first place.
          The only other coal deposits in the state are way up north, way too far to transport down to near the coast where a thermal power station needs to be built. And are also of low quality, mineralized coal.
          The eastern states have their storage – black coal. SA will soon have it’s own storage – batteries and hydro. Much better!
          In the meantime we are quite happy to use their black coal/thermal power until we can run 100% on our own.
          And that won’t be for quite a few years and many billions of dollars. But we will get there in the end.

          • mick 3 years ago

            i didnt realise it was played out

          • Chris Jones 3 years ago

            Reports are the mine wasn’t really played out, but in the end the plant was competing against Victorian brown coal plants. The difference being the freight costs of taking the lignite 260 Km from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta. So it wasn’t even worth running unless the interconnector was maxed out.

    • RobertO 3 years ago

      Hi Peter F, Every time the Haywood interconnector goes down, almost with fail the wholesale price in SA heads for the roof. Another interconnector along with the multiple batteries will cause most of the spikes to disappear from SA wholesale market. Also another Interconnect will cause AEMO to reduce gas requirements (reduce the number of units required to be running). The batteries will also help and then there the export available to send / receive power from NSW. If it is through Broken Hill then you have the Silverton Wind Farm currently under construction.

      • John Gardner 3 years ago

        As I understand it, the ALP gov’t were going to wait a while for a new interconnector and focus on getting all the new renewable projects up and running. With the current Tesla big battery doing its thing the spike are decreasing in range and frequency, so they are not quite the issue they used to be.

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      If the feds say they will use our money for a new coal plant, that’s what SA will get.

      • Gary Rowbottom 3 years ago

        Won’t happen. Would be economic madness now to go back to coal in SA. Coalition is not that dumb.

        • Justin Zobel 3 years ago

          I beg to differ

        • neroden 3 years ago

          Federal COALition is absolutely that dumb. Hopefully Marshall is smarter.

        • Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

          They are profiting from the coal money. Even under Trump Solar is still outpacing coal in growth.

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          Yes it would be economic madness, indeed!

          On the latter statement, consider these names:-
          Canavan, Newman, Frydenburg, Turnbull, Kelly, Hunt, Joyce, Morrison………………should I go on?

          • RobertO 3 years ago

            Hi solarguy, yes, a couple more are Christsen and Abbott

        • Uncommon Sense 3 years ago

          Dont bag the Federal coalition.We in SA are going to need them to Bail us out of the Financial Black hole the previous Useless government has left us in

        • RobertO 3 years ago

          Hi Gary Rowbottom, ABC onlone is reporting 4 public servants got canned by Marshal, at a cost of $4 million (Live within your means comes to mind)

      • John Mills 3 years ago

        Like I said just above – where the coal going to come from??!

        • solarguy 3 years ago

          From the under ground coal seams, where else would it bloody come from!

          • John Mills 3 years ago

            We don’t have any underground coal semas that ere close by. There are two way up north, so far north it would cost a fortune to transport it down south near the coast, where a power station could use it.
            And that coal is ‘rubbish coal’. Just like the low quality mineralized brown coal that we used to have at Leigh Creek.
            The Eastern States, and WA have plenty of good quality black coal, nad pretty good brown coal,. But SA has none.

    • Chris Jones 3 years ago

      If they are smart, they would implement all state Labor’s plans and build the extra interconnector. This will undermine Labor’s strongest policy (making Labor’s strength their own) and quickly reduce the typical wholesale cost (20% by the end of their term). Big price spikes would be massively reduced. Exports to NSW would rapidly increase (yes part of this will happen anyway even if they are king log due to previous policies). And the best thing for the Libs is if there is any little problem, they can just blame Labor.

      Of course as Libs, they would be duty bound to consider the NEG. The draft form has many critics (except the coal industry (nonexistent in SA) and friends). Further drafts can be sent back for policy development until there are genuine advantages to SA, and hopefully AUS as a whole. This would have to mean a whole lot more than increasing reliability by 0.0002% There is no hurry, 3 or 4 years would be plenty of time to make sure such a drastic policy change is right.

      • palmz 3 years ago

        100% agree keep labors policy’s/ agreements also do their own. I hope that inter-connector is set up in a way it can be used effectively, it should also decrease the risk of price hikes.

        I think the inter-connector would need to be built in the long term any way.

        • Uncommon Sense 3 years ago

          I think we all need to wait and see how many $Billions of Debt the previous Government has left us before mouthing off about how the new Government should be spending money they dont have.Remember Liberal governments are responsible spenders unlike labor shitbags

          • gasdive 3 years ago

            Wow, you’ve been listening to their advertising, not looking at their actions. Liberals often *claim* to be the responsible spenders, but the reality is the exact opposite. Liberal spending is historically far more, and far more foreign spending. This is no exception. Spend more, spend more of it overseas, get less.

          • BrainBeat 3 years ago

            On top of that they sell off everything that they can to pay for it with no regards for the consequences. If the liberals hadn’t sold the poles a wires electricity prices would never have gotten this high.

          • palmz 3 years ago

            Got some valid links….to show this, we also need to remove lagging effects …..these hurt my brain.

            To those talking about poles and wires current government owned networks are more gold plated than non government owned ones. (I know i would think otherwise to)

          • Anne Benn 3 years ago

            You mean just like John Howard left the incoming Labor government?

          • John Mills 3 years ago

            Yes, just look at how Abbott Turnbull have just about wiped out the debt left by Gillard and Rudd – not. I think they trebled it, or some such huge multiple.
            So responsible they are lol!

          • Nick Kemp 3 years ago

            That’s true but I’m sure the tax cuts to huge corporates will fix it

          • John Mills 3 years ago

            And the proposed tax cuts to middle income Australians.
            Although that might kick start the economy a bit.
            Be even better if they could change their mentality towards lower income Australia and give them a bit of a hand-out too.
            If they did the economy would really take off I reckon.

    • Anne Benn 3 years ago

      No COALation thank you very much.

  3. MrMauricio 3 years ago

    Marshall is just another cloned LNP Neanderthal!!! His reflex is to just undo whatever
    Labor has done regardless of benefit or consequence or even cost..Nothing positive to offer.S.A made a huge mistake and goes from leader of the pack to dunce,from a position of future advantage as an innovator to retarded growth, investment and jobs in one stroke.

    • Crankydaks 3 years ago

      That’s obviously not the opinion of the majority.

      • MrMauricio 3 years ago

        Not so obvious at all-since Libs received 37% of the primary vote-and only 74% of voters actually voted

        • Crankydaks 3 years ago

          And labors primary vote at 15% I believe.

          • MrMauricio 3 years ago

            seems you will believe anything-Labors primary vote was was 33.8%. S.A best took votes form both of them but mostly from the Libs-down 7%.Labor down 2%

          • Damon Schultz 3 years ago

            ALP 2PP vote actually increased in this election.

          • Brett 3 years ago

            The redrawing of the electoral boundaries delivered the election to the LNP 🙁

          • Damon Schultz 3 years ago

            [now way off-topic!] I wouldn’t go that far. By that argument, the redrawing of the boundaries for the previous 2 elections delivered government to the ALP. Hopefully with the recent changes legislated, things have returned to something approaching sensible boundary realignment.

          • Crankydaks 3 years ago

            Greens down 2% as well I believe

  4. Rod 3 years ago

    I watched a short skynews recording of Marshall being interviewed and energy was getting a lot of attention. Compared to the well informed Wetherill podcast on here Marshall is very very poorly informed.
    He should listen to the experts and give the Tesla VPP full support, even if it means dropping or reducing the Liberal plan.

  5. BushAxe 3 years ago

    The $100m could be used to encourage others like Sonnen/Reposit or existing retailers to build their own VPP’s with subsidised batteries as well. Done right they could get over 100,000 homes involved.

  6. Grpfast 3 years ago

    He’s just waiting for Malcolm to tell him what to do and trying not to put his foot in it.

    • remoteone 3 years ago

      Such leadership! He may surprise but the odds are not good.

  7. pagophilus 3 years ago

    The government shouldn’t just do deals with Tesla/Elon Musk because of his celebrity status but also support other brands, especially Australian ones. E.g. Deep Cycle Systems has their own battery systems partially developed here.

    • CMCNestT . 3 years ago

      The government doesn’t do deals with Tesla because of celebrity status but because Tesla offers the best product at the lowest cost. And the first project was done with a money back guarantee.

      • pagophilus 3 years ago

        What’s the warranty like? Lowest cost might not be lowest cost when one takesinto account battery longevity and warranty conditions. Was there a tender process or did the premier/government simply decide?

    • Justin Zobel 3 years ago

      Provided they are the same quality and can provide the quantities.

    • Leon 3 years ago

      Redflow too. Their battery deserves much more support than it’s getting so far. Longevity and recyclability appears to be well ahead of Tesla’s batteries.

  8. bedlam bay 3 years ago

    On day one Marshall trotted out the old climate change deniers old shibboleth “if the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow no power. Oily Fryberg is no better.

    • John Lunsmann 3 years ago

      Well, my 10kw solar PV install does not generate much power when the clouds fill the sky. So there is that. Rainy days are worse, 8 kwh as opposed to 65 kwh on a sunny day. Those are actual facts. I can’t afford batteries yet, being on a very low income means finance is next to impossible to get AND I hate debt.

  9. Richard Wilson 3 years ago

    I am hopeful that Steven Marshall will see the logic and value of both household schemes.
    South Australia has not had so much of the “whatever the other side does is terrible – we must undo it” syndrome over the years.

    Encouragement is probably better than criticism or attack.

    • Catprog 3 years ago

      Probably due to a lack of one side getting in and doing anything.

  10. Ian 3 years ago

    Well done Giles, bipartisan support for SA’s renewables transformation is very desirable. It’s a learning-curve for everyone.

  11. Ian 3 years ago

    By trotting out batteries to those already on solar does 2 things. It buys votes of those who may not normally support LNP and it reduces the duck curve to create an environment that resembles more base load, therefore supporting that rhetoric.

    • Justin Zobel 3 years ago

      LNP could give me a full solar+battery system and I still wouldn’t vote for them

  12. Gary Rowbottom 3 years ago

    Not sure who Marshall’s Energy Minister will be, by rights it should be Dan Van Holst Pellekaan. If so I am pretty sure he will listen to a solid fact based position on the energy transition – he has spent a lot of time in Port Augusta, the epicentre of the energy debate in SA. First task, tackle the question of baseload and why it doesn’t have to be that way, and shouldn’t, in a properly decarbonised economy. Most of my former colleagues still think “baseload” is the only way, it is all they know. You have to think outside your comfort zone – firstly understanding that we do have to make a transition from fossil fuels (I encourage learning why too but that is somewhat optional). Then you can focus on how best to make an effective transition – lowering emissions as much as possible, whilst maintaining a reliable and secure network at as an affordable price as possible. Storage is still the key in SA now. On the subject of cost, who thinks the Energy Traders and their managers get their salary bonuses based on how low they can get the wholesale energy price? Not me.

    • Rod 3 years ago

      I don’t even bother debating anyone stupid enough to tell me climate change is a hoax etc.
      I just let them know the economics are so good now, fossil fueled electricity is history when the current plants die a natural death and sooner if RE keeps cutting their lunch.

  13. neroden 3 years ago

    Hopefully Marshall will break ranks with the blinkered, in-the-pocket-of-coal-barons Federal LNP, and pursue sensible, economically sound policies — which means 100% wind/solar/batteries. Marshall has every incentive to pursue sensible policies, and no incentive to follow the federal LNP into the trashbin of history. But we can only hope. There is a long record of stupidity from Liberal leadership; let’s hope Marshall is the exception.

  14. Mark Potochnik 3 years ago

    How many more melting roads do they want? Sink you car in that melting Asphalt…..

  15. Freman 3 years ago

    “No contracts by the previous Labor government will be broken” where have I heard that before?

  16. RobertO 3 years ago

    Hi All, ABC on line is reporting $4 000,000 for 4 sacked public servants in SA. Money cheap for all pollies, it never comes out of their pockets, it’s always us taxpayers that have to pay.

  17. Damian 3 years ago

    So why was he elected then. Was this part of his policy. For anything to ever change people need to go and communicate with their local member and voice their concerns.

    • John Mills 3 years ago

      He was elected due to the three year electioneering effort by both the Murdoch printed press and the Murdoch broadcast stations. Especially the intense pro-Liberal/anti-Labor campaign in the Advertiser over the last three weeks to the election day!
      SA does not have the likes of the Sydney Morning Herald or The Age to provide a counter-point.

  18. Robert Jensen 3 years ago

    Australian politicians are so Quixotic. They all hanker to occupy the middle while pandering to the left or the right. It creates the reality of making them liars when it comes to core philosophy.
    If the Marshall government does follow the path set out by Labor for incorporating renewable energy and battery wall technology, then it will indeed be a stunning act of good sense over political inclinations.

  19. Avlismr 3 years ago

    The best we can hope for is that Marshall’s govt follows logic rather that ideology. There is nothing wrong with renewables provided that there is sufficient capacity, however derived to cover outages in renewables. And of course, as long as no one actually expects it to be cheaper

    • John Mills 3 years ago

      Various reports from all around the world are showing that new solar/wind projects are being comissioned because they are offering cheaper power than any existing coal power stations. Let alone any coal power stations that are yet to be built.

      That suggests that the materials and hardware needed to assemble a coal fired power station, and the labour costs of course, plus the equipment and labor coasts in mining the coal, plus the equipment and labour costs needed to transport the coal from the mine site to the power station (e.g the train line from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta!) – the three components required to make a coal fired power plant operate – is just exhorbitant compared to a solar/wind plant.

      With a renewable energy plant the ‘fuel’ is delivered free of charge!

      • Rob Silva 3 years ago

        You make my point very well. Coal vs renewables is ideology. Wind and sun are free, yet I can’t help but notice they don’t produce free electricity, nor even competitively priced electricity if subsidies are anything to go by. And if you want to compare wind & solar to coal/gas, the proper comparison is between coal/gas plant of X MW vs wind/solar of 3X + storage

        This is not an argument for coal. It is a plea for logic

        • RobertO 3 years ago

          Hi Rob Silva, The comparison is money and there are two tipping points for RE v Fossil Fuels. In Australia we reached the first tipping point, sometime in the last 2 years or so. It became obvious that to build a new Coal power station nobody in private sector will build one (this does not preclude the FED GOV spending taxpayer’s money to build one and incur the losses required by the taxpayers in Australia). The second tipping point is where it becomes cheaper to build new RE generation than continue to feed a coal power station. Currently NSW sells coal to Japan at $100 or $110 per ton free on board (you supply the ship and we will fill it). This enables the coal power station to charge in the wholesale market the equivalent price of coal despite what it actually costs them (and their costs have been rising, and includes their water costs, ash disposal costs and their maintenance costs). When they get to the tipping point they will flip out very quickly and RE will take over. If the FED GOV do nothing the changeover will be disruptive to supplies. One of the dangers I see is so called “Capacity Payments” made to coal power station to keep them running, despite the fact that coal has made millions over the last 10 years.

          • Rob Silva 3 years ago

            SA already reached the 2nd tipping point – so called base load generators shutting down because subsidised RE generators are cutting their lunch. The private energy companies are not going to run at a loss just to keep the lights on. SA govt solution is to rely on interstate base load supply and top it up with diesel backup generators and a battery. But of course, the 2nd tipping point is artificially induced – subsidies have brought it on earlier and RE generators are not required to provide despatchable power. Make them do that and the second tipping point is way out in the future again.

          • RobertO 3 years ago

            Hi Rob Silva, yes they will want to shut down when it gets to a loss situation but Finkel said they must give 3 years notice and I would want Finkel to have teeth so I would remove 25 % of there current profits as a security payment. AEMO has lots of records of all generator over the last 10 years so it easy to see if it’s deliberate sabatage. They also have made lots of profits and are very rich. The NEG if applied to Coal only would also be a very good idea. Make them invest in big batteries to supply security.
            There are lots of things that can be done to Coal. The one thing I do not want is so call “Capacity Payments”.

          • Rob Silva 3 years ago

            Look, if you really want to punish coal, stop being one of those evil people who consume all this electricity. Accept your responsibility for all the environmental damage you insist on blaming others for.

        • Mike Shackleton 3 years ago

          “Wind and sun are free, yet I can’t help but notice they don’t produce free electricity, nor even competitively priced electricity if subsidies are anything to go by.”

          That’s a terrible argument. Clearly there are costs to manufacture solar panels – the materials and labour, plus knowledge that conducted the research and developed the know-how, doesn’t come for free.

          Also, yes, renewables did require subsidies to get going in the early years, but guess what, those massive coal fired generators we currently run did too. The Victorian government helped establish a massive aluminium smelting and refining industry to justify the existence of the Latrobe Valley brown coal units. Subsidies were pumped into the Automotive manufacturing industry. We had 4 or 5 vehicle manufacturing plants in Melbourne, plus all their suppporting factories. That created the demand that justfied their existence and also created the economies of scale that made the power cheap. The flow on benefit was we could all have affordable electricity, which in turn improved our standard of living.

          We have some of the most lax emissions standards on our coal fired power stations in the world – not forcing them to run clean is also a form of subsidy. The bonds associated with their environmental cleanup go nowhere near enough to cover the cost of decommissioning and cleanup if the operators decided to just walk away. That is in effect another subsidy.

          Wind farms are now setting up with contracts for $55 MWh, which as cheap as existing coal fired units and cheaper than any new units could ever achieve. That’s $55/MWh, free of subsidy.

  20. Barry Alternative Fact Covfefe 3 years ago

    “So once the new government is settled into its role, common sense will prevail, political battles buried, and a way found forward. It would be quite stunning if they weren’t.”

    Prepare to be stunned, keep the pressure on to prevent stunning and don’t take nonsense for an answer

  21. Les Johnston 3 years ago

    It is always important that people consider the actual facts rather than rely upon vague impressions. Energy is an essential element for human community. The future costs and reliability of energy will demand flexible systems. Smart politicians are a must have for lower cost solutions.

  22. Ben Loveday 3 years ago

    I actually emailed Marshall directly about a week before the election that this would be the result, but I didn’t get a response. Perhaps he’ll now read the rest of my email

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