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South Australian government seeking expressions of interest for ‘low carbon’ technologies

South Australia’s government has announced that it is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from providers of innovative low-carbon technologies to inform a potential future tender process for the supply of electricity to government sites. The process could potentially lead to the state adopting some of the most cutting-edge energy technologies in the country.

The South Australian government currently has an annual electricity demand of 481 gigawatt-hours (GWh) across its various sites. At present, virtually all of this allotment is met through contracts with conventional electricity retailers. with electricity being delivered through conventional infrastructure (poles & wires). The current contracts for small government sites expire in late 2016, while the contracts for large government sites end in 2017.

The EOI program for low-carbon technologies (“Low Carbon Electricity Supplies & Services”) opens up the door to a much wider array of approaches to meeting the government’s energy needs. Any generation technology whose carbon emissions are less than 400kg per megawatt-hour (MWh) are eligible to apply, but the government is also accepting EOIs for ‘services’ which more efficiently manage the way that energy is produced and used; service types are not limited to energy efficiency but also encompass ‘energy productivity’. EOI proposals may focus solely on energy productivity, solely on generation, or be a combination of the two.

It is technologies in the energy productivity category that hold the most potential for the breaking of new ground. According to the EOI program’s description, energy productivity proposals are “proposals which seek to increase the economic value added per unit of electricity used and dollar of electricity spent by the State”. This could include ‘internet of things‘ style energy management approaches which reduce energy demand through more intelligent use of resources.

Facilitating a “responsible, efficient and cost-effective transition”

“This EOI process is an example of how the State Government is helping facilitate a responsible, efficient and cost-effective transition towards to a lower emission future,” said Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis in a media release about the program.

“A broad range of generation technologies are invited to respond to the EOI. Proposals could include, but not be limited to, technologies such as efficient gas, wind, solar PV, solar thermal, batteries, hydrostorage or hybrid proposals,” he continued.

“We will require that proposals do not negatively affect on energy security, reliability and wholesale prices in the national electricity market. We will also encourage partnerships with South Australian companies.”

Further details to be confirmed

The Government has a number of options open to it in the next stage including: shortlisting tenders and working directly with specific companies; shortlisting tenders and running a secondary evaluation process; or going back to the market with a request for tender. The Government also has the ability to not take the process to a further stage.

The government may in the end choose to contract for the full amount of its annual electricity consumption (the aforementioned 481GWh), or only a portion thereof.

Interested parties may find further details about the initiative at Tenders.SA.gov.au.

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