A new battery energy storage project will be built across four sites in the Riverland, which the company says will be the largest of its kind in Australia.
Global energy company Enel X is building the commercial and industrial battery energy storage system (BESS) at sites owned by the Central Irrigation Trust (CIT) at Waikerie, Loveday, Berri and Chaffey, which is set to be operational by mid-2022.
The batteries will provide a commercial benefit to both Enel X and the CIT, but are also set to boost energy security in the Riverland and form part of South Australia's grid as more renewable energy sources come online.
"Batteries offer a lot of potential for generating efficiencies, especially in local areas, as we transition to a more distributed power grid," Enel X's Asia Pacific director Jeff Renaud said.
"There's already a concentration of solar power in the Riverland region, which is starting to cause midday power demand issues.
"So with a concentration of batteries in the region, that can naturally balance out those issues, which can avoid the need, for instance, for there to be future constraints on the amount of solar power that can be generated in the middle of the day."
Boosting capacity in the power grid
The BESS project will hook up with Enel X's Virtual Power Plant, a national system that recognises the demand for energy around Australia and can provide support to maximise energy savings and provide power.
"The battery is acting in relation to what's happening at the national market level, and what's happening with the CIT's local consumption, but in so doing there is a natural alignment between those two things and what the local network is really asking for as well," Mr Renaud said.
"So it's essentially delivering local network benefits without explicitly being linked to a local network initiative."
The CIT is set to gain support for its irrigation and other local customers for their energy demands, but the company said the project would be able to supply additional energy to the Riverland.
"We are the custodians for the battery, we are the conduits to help Enel X hook in to the network, and that's an important part of them; they need to have customers like us to gain access to the network," said Greg McCaron, CEO of the Central Irrigation Trust.
"And by providing us some of the benefits, there's a reason for us to allow them to do that, so we get that demand control, and to have demand control that's worthwhile. You need to be a larger power user, and that's where we come into it."
Founder and editor of the online publication Renew Economy, Giles Parkinson, said the Riverland BESS system looked to be a reasonably sized installation, that would be broadly beneficial and should help to counteract situations like the widespread 2016 blackouts.
"Depending on the structure of the battery and the way it's framed, it can add extra resilience to the local grid," he said.
"A commercial and industrial battery project will be built in the Riverland in 2022, to help the take-up of solar energy and help energy reliability.
"And as we move towards more renewables, and there's no grid more transitioned to renewables, wind and solar, than South Australia, just having more battery storage around the grid is going to be beneficial."