South Australia will buy nine new generators to overcome any shortfalls in electricity during summer and cut the risk of blackouts.
The government says the state-of-the-art generators will be installed at two temporary locations for the next two summers before being moved to one permanent site.
They have the capacity to provide up to 276 megawatts but will only dispatch energy to the grid if there are shortfalls in electricity supply that could result in load shedding.
They replace the government’s original proposal to build a new gas-fired power station and to put temporary diesel generators in key locations across SA.
Premier Jay Weatherill says the generators will be funded within the existing $550 million energy plan, with the bill to be lower than the previous options.
The plan also includes construction of the world’s biggest battery in SA’s mid-north by tech billionaire Elon Musk and was developed following the statewide blackout in September 2016 and major load shedding in February.
“Rather than purchasing temporary generators before building a new gas plant, this solution will deliver long-term, back-up generation for South Australia before this summer,” the premier said on Tuesday.
“Importantly, this solution will deliver more generation capacity than originally planned while emitting less carbon pollution.”
The state government said if the turbines had been available last summer they would only have been needed on three occasions.
But Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said there was no indication on exactly how often the generators would be called on.
He also criticised the government for continually changing its energy plan and opting for measures that would not bring down energy prices.
“People are saying that South Australia has the highest costs in the entire world. This is a disaster for families, for individuals and for business,” he said.
The nine new aero-derivative turbines, which work like jet engines to produce electricity, will be initially fuelled by diesel before being connected to a gas supply.
The temporary locations to be used will be alongside Adelaide’s desalination plant in Adelaide’s south and within the soon-to-be-vacated Holden car assembly plant in the northern suburbs.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the generators were state-of-the-art.
“These are the type of generators that every modern city in the world is putting in. They are the latest in technology,” he said.
“They will give South Australia the security that we deserve.”