Closure of Holden to help manage SA’s blackout risk

The closure of the automotive industry in South Australia will help manage blackouts in the state this summer, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The South Australian Government has bought nine new General Electric (GE) aero-derivative turbines through US company APR Energy.

The gas turbines will provide up to 276MW back-up power to the state once commissioned.

The South Australian Government said the turbines would initially be installed at two locations, the Adelaide desalination plant site in Lonsdale and the General Motors Holden site in Elizabeth.

They will operate on diesel fuel over the next two summers before being relocated to a new permanent location as a state-owned power plant operating on gas.

Premier Jay Weatherill said it was an important step towards the state taking charge of its energy future.

“Rather than purchasing temporary generators before building a new gas plant, this solution will deliver long-term back-up generation for South Australia before this summer,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Importantly, this solution will deliver more generation capacity than originally planned, while emitting less carbon pollution than Torrens Island Power Station.”

In its latest Electricity Forecasting Insights report, AEMO said the closure of the automotive manufacturing sector would see the state using less electricity, especially during the state’s summer peak.

“Projections for strong growth in rooftop PV and other consumer changes, along with closure of the automotive industry, are forecast to result in lower consumption in the next two years,” the report said.

“Over the 20-year forecast period, consumption is projected to grow 4.2 per cent, from 12,543GWh in 2016–17 to 13,069GWh in 2036–37.”

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the existing electricity infrastructure at the back-up plant sites make them good strategic locations to connect the generators to the grid.

“AEMO’s latest report proves that by having this power plant and our grid-scale battery in place by December 1, we will substantially improve security of power supply in South Australia,” he said.