Storage major obstacle for going mostly solar: TG


p2335-Territory-GenerationBy ERWIN CHLANDA
To have solar power provide 75% of the energy used for electricity generation in Alice Springs would cost $1.5b to $2b and would drive up prices by 345% for that market, according to Territory Generation boss, Tim Duignan.
“The major driver of the economics for the solar solution is the storage,” said Mr Duignan, told an Estimates Committee hearing this morning.
Questioned about the $75m expenditure for a new gas-fired power station in Alice Springs, he said that the town has “done an exceptional job with the Solar Cities program and the like to have a very solid penetration of solar in that market.
“It runs at about 40% of the existing average demand in Alice Springs, which is probably one of the higher penetrations in the world, certainly in Australia.”
The solar percentage for the peak demand is far lower.
Mr Duignan said: “The storage required would be for up to seven days.”
He said from May 2 to 8 there had been cloud cover over Alice Springs.
“That shows that we would need seven days storage to cover the requirements of that market should it be a solar-only solution.”
His forecast at the hearing, and that of Non Executive Board Director ‪Leeanne Bond‬, about the future of solar was vague: “The battery technology is currently cost-prohibitive on a utility scale, but we are going to see that rapidly change in the future.”
They foreshadowed “some community consultation across the Territory later this year which places a road map and a vision for Territory Generation’s renewable energy strategies moving forward”.
Ms Bond said there would be developments “to bring down the cost and increase the reliability, but that does not close us off to developing our renewable energy strategy and moving as the technology becomes more affordable”.
Mr Duignan said in reply to a question form chairperson Robyn Lambley: “I think in five to 10 years we are going to be right in the space.
p2335-Robyn-Lambley“Various experts made forecast graphs based on a fall in cost of batteries.
“We are not going to see as steep a fall as we saw in solar panels for instance, but a significant reduction in the cost of battery technology is being predicted.
“How far that will go is unknown. Solar panels themselves are predicted by 2020 to cost two-thirds less than today, a reduction of two-thirds.”
The new Owen Springs power station is scheduled for completion in December next year, and the Ron Goodin plant in town is likely to be decommissioned in mid 2018.
PHOTOS: Top – TG Chief Financial Officer Steve Bartlett, Ms Bond and Mr Duignan. Above – Estimates Committee chairperson Robyn Lambley.


  1. So a vote for the Labor / Greens team would ensure each home would end up with a power bill that is totally unaffordable except to the very rich or someone on politicians’ wages.
    Australian politics seem to run on emotions, but people need real facts and costings to see how the outcome of their votes will affect their hip pocket.
    So given a worker’s spare cash is to be spent on what was affordable cheap energy, how the hell will anyone, ever again, afford cars, holidays and all the other fun things in life?
    1 Territory who has preferenced the Greens need to come on here and explain their decision to voters.

  2. Yes, big scale storage is a dumb idea. But building an expensive system that does 100% gas fired is just as dumb. Solar and gas powered work well together. Don’t need 100% of either.

  3. If Australia gets a decent government committed to the climate I would have thought that Alice could be the perfect test bed for all sorts of solar technologies. One day it could be a major supplier to the rest of the country. There seems to be a deficit in policy and imagination in your great country.

  4. Since when were batteries the only storage option?
    Let’s see the coatings for extending the grid up and down the Stuart Highway with dispersed solar generation, for solar with gas back up, for tapping into geothermal sources, for solar thermal with molten salt storage, etc.

  5. “In 5 to 10 years we are going to be in the right place” said Mr Duignan.
    So we are replacing a power generation plant that would have been good for 5 to 10 years at a cost of $75 million when that money could have been better spent ensuring we are fully prepared for that renewable future.
    Citizens, this is not about the future of Territory Generation it is about taking control of our power generation with the distribution network, smoothing out the bumps.
    If TG was in private hands they would have run a million miles rather than invested $75 million with current knowledge. If they couldn’t produce cheap power we would kiss them good bye.

  6. Alice Springs has the capacity to become The Solar Centre, a world-class centre of excellence that could deliver the yet to be explored answers to this technology into the future.
    Charles Darwin University in partnership with the Desert Knowledge Precinct can create boundless opportunities with regard to increased VET courses that will make our tradies solar certified and become a global research facility attracting scholars from around the country and the world.
    Increased employment opportunities bring an increase in population who all need to live somewhere, shop locally, buy petrol etc. and the money stays here in town.
    All this needs is the will of the people that elect Territorian leaders who will drive this potential until it becomes a reality.
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

  7. For how long did we hear global warming, and then climate change became the new phase due to the fact no one could deny it.
    Yes! Climate does change and that is a reality.
    What is also a reality, is that we also have times when we are closer to the sun. Times when our axis varies due to our orbit.
    So many natural factors that we have no impact on. Nor do we want to. All this is ignored as not relevant evidence base by the climate change warriors who seek to blame mankind for it all.
    Yes, we are responsible for pollution.
    So logical thought or thinking people would see that we need to put effort into more efficient vehicle motors and power plants that reduce pollution. Logical thinking people know that carbon in the atmosphere is good for rainfall and growing crops.
    Trees breath in the carbon and breath out oxygen. So if that is the reality why not plant more trees or better still ensure forests are not destroyed.
    But alas, money is the root of all evil. So like those who destroy forests anywhere on the planet for money, so to do the agitators for climate change charges. Money is the answer for effort to stop it. Reality lesson, nature is its own driver. And it has no use for money. A lesson in the stock market is clear when it comes to carbon credits it is all fresh air.
    We have environmentalist for decades demanding nature stays natural and constant and we have and enjoy many beautiful natural areas.
    They have voiced their anger at concrete jungles encroaching further and further out. And destroying our natural environment.
    And these same people are supporting and pushing wind and solar plants that consume vast land mass. And the elephant always in the room is batteries. Yes, technology is advancing. And yes there is life expectancy for solar panels and wind.
    So what then if in technology we come up with a way to produce power without solar and wind and without cost. What happens to all that unusable non-recyclable product? Where do we store batteries until we can dispose of them environmentally!
    Like so many things that are pushed on us here on earth we are subjected to instant fix without the logic or research. And in just about all of these we do not factor in outcomes and future issues.
    I am all for keeping our planet healthy and happy. And balance between life and life styles. I fully believe that environmentalist are the greatest threat to our planet and the people on it.
    The pollution of batteries every bit as toxic and radiation waste, and detrimental to land and water contamination.
    Yet radiation waste is controlled by strict routines and safety structures. This is not the case with batteries.

  8. Bring back the solar incentive deal and make it attractive for residents to install their own.

  9. There are so many things either wrong, nonsensical or just absurd with Janet’s comment that I feel this is the full extent of a reply that the comment deserves.
    Regarding storage options, certainly pumped hydroelectric energy storage looks like a growing trend.

  10. @ Baron. Suggest you get in and access the tradie’s loan courtesy of the NT Government.
    Up to $2000 dollars in help there. Credit where credit is due.
    Of course if $50 million was offered every house in Alice Springs would have solar and the government would have to do something about storage.


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