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SA connects its hybrid diesel-gas generators

SA connects its hybrid diesel-gas generators

Hybrid diesel-gas generators that the Weatherill government is buying to prevent blackouts this summer ahead of the March state election have been connected to South Australia’s wind-reliant grid.

Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis today toured the former Holden factory at Elizabeth in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, one of two sites where the generators have been installed. A second fleet of generators has been connected at the Adelaide Desalination Plant at Lonsdale, south of the city.

Mr Weatherill said the state now had access to an extra 276 MW of electricity generation, after weeks of installation and testing.

The new GE TM2500 aero derivative turbines will initially run only on diesel. They will be used to send electricity to the grid to help avoid supply shortfalls.

The generators, which the state government is calling a “power plant”, have been supplied by APR Energy.

Mr Weatherill today confirmed they will operate on diesel fuel during the next two summers, before being moved to a permanent location as a state-owned power plant operating on gas.

A permanent location is yet to be identified.

The Premier said the generators would be “cleaner” than the former coal-fired Northern Power Station at Port Augusta, and once operating on gas, would be cleaner and more efficient than the gas-fired Torrens Island Power Station.

He said the generators would be complemented by the world’s largest lithium ion battery and new ministerial powers of direction.

APR Energy’s bid was selected following a competitive tendering process run by privately owned electricity distribution company SA Power Networks.

Mr Koutsantonis said the solution offered by the state Labor government gave voters a clear choice at the March election.

“South Australians will have a clear choice at this election: a Labor Party that believes South Australians should own their own power plant or a Liberal Party that wants to sell it to the private market,” he said.

In August, The Australian reported the generators will use 80,000 litres of diesel an hour.

The fleet of generators, which were shipped from Europe to South Australia, have been used for temporary generation around the world and are costing taxpayers more than $300 million.

Mr Weatherill in August said the nine “state-of-the-art” gen­erators would be purchased, rather than leased, to provide back-up power for the next two summers and then be hooked up at one spot and converted to gas.

This replaced a previously announced plan to build a state-owned gas-fired power station.

The protocols of when and how to turn the generators on have been established by the Australian Energy Market Operator and SA Power Networks, but the objective was to prevent load shedding, rather than reducing the cost of power, over the next two summers.

The opposition today said the entire project showed the sheer desperation of the Weatherill government to prevent further blackouts before the next election.

“The incompetent Weatherill government is calling diesel generators that are spread across two locations a ‘power plant’. That doesn’t even make sense,” a Liberal spokesman said.

The Australian

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