Photo: Sanjeev Gupta and Elon Musk will remain major players in the SA energy market. (ABC News/AAP)
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South Australia will push ahead with a plan to install battery systems built by Elon Musk's Tesla in 50,000 homes, with the new State Government committing to continue the pro-battery agenda of its predecessor.The Weatherill Labor government announced the Tesla policy in February, declaring it would install battery and solar systems free of charge to create the world's "largest virtual power plant" and slash energy bills.
The plan shared similarities with a Liberal policy allowing battery storage units in 40,000 homes, and it was unclear which of the two policies would be adopted following the election of Liberal Premier Steven Marshall.
Photo: Steven Marshall with Dan van Holst Pellekaan, who has committed to the Tesla plan. (ABC News: Michael Clements)
But in a speech at the Australian Energy Storage Conference, Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the Government would implement both.
"It's very important to be clear about this — we are honouring the existing commitments around the Tesla virtual power plant (VPP)," he said.
"The VPP project is currently proceeding with the two trial phases as planned. The trial phases involve installation of home energy systems on 1,100 Housing SA homes.
"These are supported by a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the State Government.
"Subject to private finance, and the first two phases' success, the third phase could grow to up to 50,000 home batteries connected to new solar installations, and this is in addition to our government's 40,000 home election commitment."
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said his first meeting after being sworn in was with Tesla, and wants the state to become a world leader in home battery installation.
"Very simply, a Liberal Government in South Australia means more, not fewer, batteries," he said."We'll show the world how the mass adoption of home batteries can and will work.
"This is a complicated task — I don't think that anyone has attempted to do what we're about to do at this scale relative to population and market size."
Mr van Holst Pellekaan was also full of praise for Tesla's giant lithium ion battery near Jamestown.
"Within the first month of it being installed, it helped to smooth out two major trips," he said.
"I'm very glad Tesla is working with our Government. It's a great partnership shining a spotlight on South Australia."
The Energy Minister added that gas would become a "less necessary" component of SA's energy mix as storage technology evolved and improved.
Gupta wants to build electric car factory
The energy conference also heard from Whyalla steelworks boss Sanjeev Gupta, who wants to turn his company GFG Alliance into one of the nation's biggest energy providers.
The British billionaire outlined plans for a massive 10 gigawatts of solar energy, saying the proposal would be backed up by a huge grid-scale battery and pumped hydro dams.
The latest announcement is for 10 times as much power production as previously flagged.
"Our largest investments will be in solar. We have stated 1,000 megawatts in South Australia," he said.
"We have some ambitions in other industries … depending on that we could be as much as 10 gigawatts of solar across the country," Mr Gupta said.He said GFG also has plans to build an electric car factory, which could provide another option for household energy storage.
"Taking solar, generating your own energy, then using your car battery as your house battery to basically store that energy," he said.
"We are looking at setting the plant up, we will definitely do it. Whether it's here or another part of the country is subject to what conditions are best for that production."