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South Australia Doubles Down on Solar Energy

By Ian Lowe

A South Australian election promise to install solar panels and batteries in 50,000 homes has placed the Prime Minister in an awkward position.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The calling of a state election in South Australia put electricity prices in the spotlight. The 100 MW Tesla battery has proved a great success, not just evening out power supply for South Australia but helping out Victoria when a Latrobe Valley brown-coal generator shut down on a hot afternoon.

The Weatherill government doubled down on its commitment to renewables and storage with a plan to install solar panels and batteries free in 50,000 homes. The first 1100 systems will be provided to public housing, which will also get the next 24,000 before the scheme is offered to owner-occupiers.

The deal with Tesla and solar panel suppliers will be financed by the sale of surplus electricity to the grid. The Premier says the result will be a 250 MW virtual power station, with participants expected to see a 30% reduction in their power bills. The plan has been lauded by the Smart Energy Council’s chief executive John Grimes as a “game-changer” providing “greater security for the energy network” while reducing power bills.

The plan created a political difficulty for the Liberal Opposition in South Australia. On the one hand, they had Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull deriding the renewable energy strategy as “reckless experiments”. At the same time, they couldn’t be seen opposing a scheme to lower prices, so a newspaper report said they had a similar plan to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.