The Grid Scale Storage Fund - A Hat Full of Sky

The Grid Scale Storage Fund - A Hat Full of Sky
Sometimes in life you have moments that just make you step back and say ‘what?’.

When I was 19, I was at a friend’s place watching television when her 12-year-old sister came running down the stairs in a panic. She had found a small piece of foam, rolled it up and placed it in her nostril, where it had consequently expanded and was now convincingly lodged. I try to imagine what was going through her mind in that moment, what terrible thoughts were unfolding inside her about the doom she had wrought upon herself.

“Dad!” she screamed, “There’s a piece of foam stuck in my nose!”
“How did that happen?” Dad replied, clearly missing the urgency of the situation and choosing to focus on the ‘why’, rather than offering a solution.
“How do I get it out?!” she frantically pleaded.
“Block your other nostril with your finger and blow.” Dad offered casually, still oblivious to the severity of her plight.
Following her father’s guidance, she promptly placed a finger over the unfoamed nostril and blew.

The foam exited her nostril, Dad saved the afternoon and the performance came to an end; or so I thought.

It’s what she did next that really gave me that ‘what?’ moment. She bent down, retrieved the piece of foam from the floor, placed it safely in her pocket and went back upstairs. To this day I don’t know what she was planning on doing with it next.

But you get the idea. I’m sure you’ve probably had one of these moments yourself. Your face contorts involuntarily as your mind scrambles to absorb what just transpired, you can't find the words to adequately express this emotion, because you aren't prepared for it.

You do one of these:
I had one of these two nights ago; It happened right after reading an email which Mark Yates had forwarded me.

Firstly, a little bit of context; in November, 2018, RenewablesSA - a division of the South Australian State Government - announced the Grid Scale Storage Fund. This $50million fund was set up to ‘accelerate the roll-out of grid-scale storage infrastructure’ in South Australia, essentially ‘firming’ renewables and their capacity to meet energy demand.

Through the application process the government called on businesses involved with grid-scale renewable energy solutions to begin fast-tracking the roll-out of large-scale batteries to existing renewable energy projects. This would provide the grid with more dispatchable generation as it converted intermittent generating assets into plants that could react to market signals during high-demand periods, even when the plant wasn’t generating.

Naturally - one would assume - a project like this would be most effectively developed by engaging with businesses that ideally have a number of grid-scale generating assets, and extensive experience and knowledge of the South Australian Energy Market and its requirements.

Naturally - one would assume - a project like this would be most effective if it were rolled out to as many sites as possible across South Australia, reducing the risk of a single point of failure. As such you would naturally also assume the government might engage with companies that have several projects developed across South Australia which are already online and ‘battery ready’, possibly even a company which has painstakingly spent the past three and a half years developing a distributed network of solar farms across South Australia, and operates nearly 50% of the total grid-scale renewable energy projects currently registered in the state.

Naturally, you could make the assumption that a company like Yates Electrical Services might be a clear contender for such a project.

Naturally, you would be wrong, for we must always remember; if you make an assumption, you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’, and ‘mption’.

On Tuesday, Yates Electrical Services received a very brief and vague email stating that we were unsuccessful in being considered for the Grid Scale Storage Fund, in almost the same manner you might receive a ‘this position has been filled’ letter for a job you don’t remember applying for. A company which has over 60 grid-scale renewable energy projects totalling over 20MW already developed in the state, which - and I know I’ve already said this but it just kinda feels relevant - accounts for nearly half of the states registered renewable energy assets. A company which has a further 20-odd grid-scale solar farm projects currently under various stages of development, does not qualify for a government run fund to roll-out grid-scale batteries.
As Mark said to me though, not everything in business is roses. You have your ups, and you have your downs. There is no doubt being considered for the Grid Scale Storage Fund would have enabled us to rapidly deploy storage solutions across our existing fleet of solar farms - in the process, creating more local employment opportunities and further adding value to the region (as any of the owners of our existing solar farms will tell you) - without the funding, it will just take us a bit longer. It’s not a roadblock, it’s a speed bump.

More than anything, it just feels to us like another missed opportunity in the Riverland for us to provide value to our community, which is disappointing - particularly considering both the nature of our business and the nature of the fund.

But, onwards and upwards, as they say.

About the Author

Patrick is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Yates Electrical Services. When he's not designing stuff and writing stories, he performs as an acoustic soloist and spends time with his beautiful little family.

Patrick also likes long walks on the beach, sewing, and photoshopping himself to look like an Avenger. He really wishes he was an Avenger.