CANBERRA -- Despite ridiculing the plan for Tesla billionaire Elon Musk and French company Neoen to build the "world's largest lithium ion battery" in South Australia and comparing it to a big banana, the Turnbull Government is seriously tipping in to build another big battery in the state.
It is providing $12 million in funding, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), for a large-scale battery at the Dalrymple substation on the Yorke Peninsula to shore up the state's power supply. At 30MW it would be less than a third the size of the proposed Tesla facility, which is being built by December 1 or it is free.
The battery is expected to cost around $30 million, backed by private investment from the energy sector, and be operational by next February. Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has described it as the "first large-scale battery to be designed, built and commercially operated in Australia".
Frydenberg touts Wednesday's battery announcement as an example of the Government's investment in innovative technologies and said it "will help to deliver affordable and reliable energy as we transition to a lower emissions future."
South Australia has been beset by blackouts and other power supply issues and the state Labor Government has been criticised by the Federal Government for strongly pursuing renewable energy as part of the state's energy mix. Apart from the Tesla battery project, the state is building a new $360 million gas-fired power plant.
South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis is surprised the Turnbull Government is now embracing batteries.
"Given the amount of ridicule Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister and Josh Frydenberg themselves heaped on a 100 megawatt battery and now they're celebrating a 30 megawatt battery," Koutsantonis told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
Well it does seem to be a case of different battery, different story.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has been ripping the Tesla renewable energy project to build the 100MW/129MW battery in South Australia as "Hollywood," "showbiz" and compared it to the world's biggest banana and the world's biggest prawn. He also dismissed it as "so at the margin it barely is worthy of a mention".
Minister Frydenberg also said Elon Musk's battery was "no silver bullet" and the public should not be tricked into thinking that it was.
It was also "a small announcement in terms of some of the challenges South Australia faces by having such a high penetration of wind and solar".