South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent. It's the most perfect place for solar power. Australia as-a-whole is a perfect place for solar power.
A university lecturer of mine got one of the first solar panel installations in South Australia, it was mentioned in the local Adelaide paper, that's how much of a big deal it was. This was around 20 years ago. Twenty years!
South Australia (still) has some of the highest priced electricity in the world. There's been talk of privatization as the cause of this, which has been somewhat debunked, and the primarily agreed reason for the high prices is what's referred to as "gold-plating of the network" in which there was an agreement that the 'poles and wires' companies could not lose money on any infrastructure investment they committed to - the regulator would allow them continually increase the prices they charge in order to cover the cost of the infrastructure investment.
So, despite how perfect Australia is for solar power, private or commercial, despite the fact that solar panels have been getting commercially installed on private homes for 20-odd years, and despite the networks being given carte-blanche for infrastructure investment, somehow, Australia is un-prepared for a flood of solar power.
The various organizations that are meant to be on top of this shit have been asleep at the wheel for fucking YEARS. This was highlighted by the big power failure in South Australia in 2016 when a number of wind farms shut down due to 'safety settings' being set at overly paranoid parameters, which was a problem that had already been solved in Europe (the frustrating irony of this is that the wind farms were being blamed for the power failure, when the actual situation was that the wind farms could have PREVENTED it, if their configurations were 'best practice' - the problems in the electricity network that caused the wind farms to trip were powerful winds that took down some big-arse transmission lines)
Australia's issues with renewable energy are entirely of their own making. And it's far more likely attributable to incompetence than malice. I'd almost prefer it was malice because malice comes and goes. Incompetence is systemic.
Off on a tangent, here's my 10-years of electricity usage / costs investigation:
One thing you left out though is the very real possibility of an electricity utility death spiral, as the (wilfully) rising grid costs combine with obligation of supply and the declining cost of solar self-sufficiency meet on an economic collision course.
The cost of a tesla powerwall in SA right now is about $10k. One or two of these combined with an average size roof PV array will run you about AUD$20-30k. For people used to a quarterly power bill of $1k+ this is an absolute no-brainer. Even if you don't have the money up front it's an easy loan that simply pays itself off, then it's nothing but upside.
Right now that payback period is 5-10 years but as the tech progresses that will decrease. Once the price tag to substantially remove electricity bills from your life reaches $10k or so everyone will do it and the utilities are fucked. Hell, I can envisage neighbourhood power co-ops. I know someone with so much extra power they have no idea what to do with it. They air condition their garage 24/7!
Perhaps a startup opportunity there coordinating and organising "local sourced" power. There would be hardware involved but I know at least 5 people who would love to be able to sell power to their neighbours. Someone just needs to remove all the friction.
The grid will become the backup for when there is a local issue with your system, that's my take from a very shallow amount of reading.
And reading through your linked blog posts, it seems you know it too.
People don't just accidentally campaign against carbon taxes and coincidentally embrace climate change denial and attack science when it benefits their largest donors.
This article itself is knowingly malicious in presenting a false narrative in order to stop Australians saving money that would otherwise go to fossil fuel interests.
Heh, thanks for taking the time to read it.
I like to try to present the facts as I see them before getting too tin-foil-hat ranty.
Yes, the current Australian Government is as close to being in the pockets of mining companies as it's possible to be, and yes, they rail against renewable energy to an extent that is confusing to anyone somewhat literate and numerate.
Our Energy Minister spoke at an anti-wind-farm rally for goodness sake.
The opposition party seem entirely toothless on numerous issues and just do not, for whatever reason, hold the government to account on any of it's ludicrous statements, policy suggestions, or general direction.
But saying that stuff, in a forum where people can reply, is asking for a flame-war.
Hopefully the facts speak for themselves, whilst Australia's political class continues to shred any of its remaining reputation.
As a follow up, as of the third quarter 2019, I'm $50 away from my solar system having paid for itself. I need to update the graphs...
The opposition is a political party who was explicitly formed to champion the rights of people like the coal miners. A lot of their heartland in Newcastle-region and probably QLD is mining towns.
I'm always impressed that they can take an anti-mining stance at all; anti-coal policies target people who are traditionally core Labor activists. The mining union isn't the be-all and end-all, and I don't follow their internal struggles very much, but the Labor party must have some pretty structural reservations about shutting down mining jobs. These jobs are the easiest way for unskilled or semi-skilled labour to make money in Australia.
now that is a quote
Australia is run by mining magnates and an energy oligarchy. Its government has very little concern for the future of the country - having sold most of it, out from under the Australian citizens - and its political class is hell-bent on cashing in. Australians should stop being so shocked about the impropriety of the nation and start paying more attention.
This is the nation that watched the Great Barrier Reef die in front of its eyes, for the sake of a few smashed avocados. Its the nation that got away with its genocide, while the world wasn't watching. Its a nation which glorifies war criminals as heroes and hides its political dissidents behind secret courts and non-public processes.
Its political system was specifically designed to allow only the ruling classes to wield power - the riffraff of the general population will never get what they want from their government, if big changes are required to get them.
Australia is a MASSIVE country, that is largely uninhabitable by humans. It is estimated that 75% of the species on the continent are undiscovered: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-07/75-per-cent-of-specie...
Large scale solar is likely to cause problems for large numbers of native species. YMMV in how important you find that, but to me personally it is a huge issue.
A patch of land 20 miles by 20 miles generates enough electricity for the entire Aus requirements.
That’s an order of magnitude less than area taken by austrailia’s roads.
Insolation at that location is about 2.1MWh per square metre per year, or 2100GWh per square km per year. 
Solar panels are around 20% efficiency, so lets call it 15% to include things like support areas.
The area used by that coal mine could generate 2100 x .15 x 447 = 140TWh per year
Austrailia currently uses 190TWh/year , so an area the size of that one mine could generate the majority of Austrailia's electrical requirements.
That's just back of envelope numbers, if we look at existing solar plants though, Solar Star in California generates  526MWh/acre, or 130GWh/sqkm -- so this plant would generate 58TWh a year, still over 25% of requirements
There are many problems with solar power, but space use in Australia is not one.
Well, lets check! The total power generating capacity of Australia is about 66GW, but about 18 is already hydro, wind, or solar. So we need to come up with about 48GW. Lets take a fairly moderate estimate of 4 acres per MW (4000 acres per GW). It may be more or less than this, but in the long run this is not a terrible estimate. So we need to come up with about 50 * 4000 == 200,000 acres of land.
South Australia by itself is 243,000,000 acres, we need about 200k, so this is about .8% of the total land area. This seems like a lot! However, the total number of dwellings in South Australia is about 768,000. The average size of a roof, according to google, is about .03 acres. So just putting photovoltaics on 1/2 of the roof area (meh, I don't know how to estimate usable roof area with a random direction and I don't know whether roofs in Australia are flat, so lets take 1/2) would get you 11.5k acres.
So 5% of the total power usage of all of Australia could be provided just by putting solar panels on the roofs of houses in South Australia. Seems like a good deal for endangered species.
What about the other 95%? Well, again, you would only need 0.8% of South Australia to supply the energy needs of all of Australia.
Like you said, Australia is a MASSIVE country, and has extremely low population density and an almost perfect climate for solar power production. So what is your point exactly? That if they took less than 1% of the land of one part of the country and converted to 100% renewable energy some lizard which is only 'unique' by an arbitrary human criterion might have too much shade?
The matter was that the High Court recognised that Aboriginals had every right to be part of Australian society & had a pretty solid claim to be the effective owners of the land. That is to say, 'terra nullius' was more about racism and culture than about facts and technicalities. It seems comparatively unlikely that we are going to recognise 75% of the species in Australia as being property-owning members of society.
The legal basis for considering Australian territory to be the property of no-one was that the Aborigines appeared to have no concept of landownership; they were nomadic, didn’t build and permanent structures, didn’t farm, didn’t have any concept of which bits of land belong to whom. Without that, it’s difficult to say that anyone actually owns any piece of land in particular.
Second paragraph is half based on commonly-held misconceptions that are partially the result of early colonial propaganda: indigenous Australians did indeed have strong traditions of land occupation and diplomacy and knew exactly which land “belonged” to which tribe. They farmed extensively (research Wollombi as an example - yams from horizon to horizon according to white explorers recorded notes).
Of course, all nations are based upon the power to take or prevent what you have from being taken, and in that regard it’s no different from anywhere else in the world.
You have rights to property, life and liberty essentially because the local constitutional law asserts that these rights are the law of the land - and it's worth to note that the basic set of unalienable constitutional rights is quite different in different sovereign countries, some things are almost universal, but there's a lot of differences. If sovereignty changes hands (e.g. if Australia would be conquered by USSR in a weird alternate history), then it's perfectly plausible for the new sovereign to assert that people like larnmar can't have any property rights, and all real estate is now the property of someone else - and that would be entirely legal, because they get to define legality.
On the other hand, suppose aliens land on Earth and quietly blorple all the fuzzbars between our atoms. We can’t possibly understand the blorpling but it doesn’t seem to be doing any harm so we leave it be.
A couple of centuries later we realise that if we’d blorple our own fuzzbars we’d be rich by now. But let’s face it, we were probably never going to develop blorpling technology on our own.
Bigger problem then coal mines?
For example on top of houses and shopping centres. While we're also looking at shopping centres - there's a huge amount of unroofed parking, throw up some basic shelter to put the solar panels on and you get the dual-benefit of energy generation, and keeping the cars cooler.
Did you see the photos of the lightly-charred koalas?
If you had to pick somewhere in the world to build enough solar arrays to power the entire planet, WA is the perfect spot for it.
The site evaluation itself states both sites are about the same, and I think I've read that the eventual political compromise means there will be less RFI overall, at the unspoken cost of some simultaneous coverage of the targets.
Of note to the sort of sociological questions we are discussing here, I note not only is the Site selection report ~200 pages, but also fairly interesting is a 16 page "Report on Validation of the SKA Site Selection Process". This comes with a lot of other documents as appendices, but also lays allows one to make out the timeline a bit more.
The final site report is from February 2012, while an "evaluation plan" was set in November 2011, and a "Revised Plan for SKA Site Selection" approved in May 2011. The Siting Group was created in 2010, to help with the "final" site selection. All this paints a picture of a somewhat fluid process.
Generation is probably less than half the problem. The infrastructure to transport it everywhere is. So even if there's a goldmine of free electricity there getting it to the places that need it is a challenge.
Wow, that sounds like a great problem to have. Note the aggressive rhetoric ... 'spill', 'uncontrolled','pushing', 'bedrock', 'solar smashes utility finance'. Well-crafted FUD from ABC's Mercer, if he wrote it all.
Coal and gas being endangered sounds perfect, if you give a rat's ass about climate change. But let's do everything we can to get in the way of progress by painting the result as blackly as possible. Maybe instead of pushing that excess onto the grid, people can sell it their neighbors instead ... or 'the industry' could install more batteries to store it in.
It's also a problem that has already been solved at the technology level.
Australia just needs an equivalent to California's updated "Rule 21" regulations for smart inverters, which came into force in 2019. These rules require inverters to support "remote control" management by utilities, so that their output can be throttled back in low-demand scenarios.
Rule 21 also specifies features like dynamic volt/VAR (dynamic reactive compensation), so inverters actively work to stabilise the grid in the event of voltage deviations, as well as ramping and "ride through" requirements to prevent large numbers of inverters tripping simultaneously during voltage/frequency deviations which could result in a cascading fault.
This is also not, in fact, a good situation to be in. The stability of the power grid depends on balancing supply with demand in real time, and if that can't be done then the whole thing fails. Not only that, the old-fashioned gas and steam power plants have inertia that helps stabilize the grid and as that decreases overall stability margins fall. I think wind farms can emulate this inertia to a certain extent, but that doesn't always seem to work so well...
Hmmm, it must be a dog whistle. I read it. Those terms had me cheering the rooftop solar roll out on. You are saying that wasn't the intended effect?
And the article did say what the solution was - pour resources into storage and wind. I'll grant you it was at the end, but there was no mention of stopping the solar roof top rollout. That continuing seemed like a forgone conclusion, and more to the point - how could they stop it?
Mind you, I didn't quite understand the problem with "lots of output on cool spring days". The solar inverters are required by law to protect the grid. As the output rises above consumption the grid voltage rises. When the voltage crosses a threshold every solar inverter is required to disconnect itself from the grid. The effect is very well known among root top solar owners, and is the topic of a hot conspiracy theories. (The conspiracy is when the major supplies aren't making enough money, they mistakingly/on-purpose let the voltage rise for a small time.)
Interestingly they didn't mention the obvious solution - more gas generators. I guess the gas people didn't pay for it.
But, that's like saying smartphones jeopardized the cell phone infrastructure, which they did except the cell phone companies added capacity. Bicycles can jeopardize the road network of a city if they become widely used, and you don't do anything (e.g. bike lanes) to accommodate that change. Every change in technology can jeopardize the network it is part of, if nothing else is changed to accommodate it.
But, you know, there are several (already known, developed) methods of handling this (big batteries, utilities being able to turn off your solar like they can currently remotely control my thermostat). It seems a bit of an overstatement to say that it's jeopardizing the grid.
It's a fascinating view into what happens when a few very rich and powerful people control essentially all the media in an entire country.
> In 2010 Rinehart took a 10 per cent stake in Ten Network Holdings; James Packer had acquired an 18 per cent stake in the same company shortly before. Since then she also acquired a substantial stake in Fairfax Media. Rinehart was a major player in the media and no longer limits her interests to the mining business. In February 2012 she increased her stake in Fairfax to over 12 per cent, and became the largest shareholder of the company. Fairfax journalists were reportedly fearful that she wanted to turn them into a "mouthpiece for the mining industry". In June 2012, she increased her stake further to 18.67 per cent, and was believed to be seeking three board seats and involvement in editorial decisions in Fairfax's newspaper division. Negotiations between Fairfax and Hancock Prospecting broke down in late June because of disagreements over Fairfax's editorial independence policy and other issues relating to board governance; chair Roger Corbett subsequently announced that Rinehart would not be offered any seats on the board. After failing to get board representation she sold her shareholding in 2015.
This man is now the Prime Minister (the highest political position in Australia):
That was the point of the article: the solar CANNOT be switched off, it's dumb. That's what's causing the problem, all the dumb solar.
However, there is a huge demand for fresh water, and lots of available seawater. You could just soak up excess power by using it for desalination, which is power-hungry.
But that doesn't benefit the mining industry, so no-one in WA govt will think of it.
To begin with, nothing is jeopardising the grid right now in Western Australia, it is running just fine.
The claim seems to be that if we do not account for the increasing share of solar power in the future generation mix, then we may grid stability have problems sometime in the future...
Given that the solutions to such problems are well known and inexpensive - how about we don't plod stupidly into the future? Was that ever the plan?
And the "lesson for Australia" is what, exactly? Plan ahead?
>Ms Zibelman said WA's isolation amplified this trend because the relative concentration of its solar resources meant fluctuations in supply caused by the weather had an outsized effect.
>The only way to manage the solar was to scale back or switch off the coal- and gas-fired power stations that were supposed to be the bedrock of the electricity system.
>The problem was coal-fired plants were not designed to be quickly ramped up or down in such a way, meaning they were ill-equipped to respond to sudden fluctuations in solar production.
Sounds like it's time rebalance the system with lower baseload assumptions for coal and gas plants. I'm quite sure the incumbents are loathe to suggest that since it means investment in buffers to soak up so-called excess power from solar panels and splitting the profit with solar panel owners.
The real problem is that fossil fuel plants are designed to be profitable at high load factors. Building a coal plant and only running it at 50% load is not profitable.
It cost $100 million to build.
Batteries energy density puts them so far past green washing that in the current day and age they are Potemkin villages.
It can respond to market demand within milliseconds, and after coming online was responsible for dropping the average wholesale price of electricity by 90%.
And as for distances - power grids have been built at similar scale, and even longer. When there's essentially free power for the taking, why wouldn't you invest into delivering it where it needs to go?
It costs three or more times as much since you need to use uncommon materials and design from scratch.
>And as for distances - power grids have been built at similar scale, and even longer.
There is no country in the world as large and as sparsely populated as Australia. The distance between Perth and Brisbane is the same as that between NY and SF with no one living between them. When I worked in finance here it was always fun explaining to Americans why their algos will fail regardless of what we do, the speed of light matters.
Hilariously enough, even the US doesn't have one grid continent wide, and it's ten times as densely populated as Australia.
And I'm still confused - what kind of "uncommon materials" are we talking about? What exactly is the problem with normal power delivery infrastructure that precludes it from operating at high temps?
> Elevated air temperatures can reduce the rated capacity of electric transmission lines, meaning that their ability to transmit power will be diminished during peak hours.
That said, it looks like it's just a couple percent, so maybe you just overbuild a little.
You say this like it doesn't get sunny in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane (the top three largest cities)
Plenty of room for solar on existing buildings and structures. No need to transport it long distances.
Multiply that by 1100 or so km across the nullarbor (rough guess; what really matters is the path between closest transmission lines of sufficient capacity) and you begin to see the scale of the problem.
Oh, and Australia has roughly the land area of the lower 48 of the US, with roughly the population of Southern California. In other words, it's bloody empty.
It would have been 5-10 years ago that GE put out research warning that electricity retailers needed to shift their fee models from charging actual power usage to charging to be connected to the grid (even if you only sometimes used power).
They simply really need speed up investment in infrastructure that can take up any available free power. For example, there are two large seawater desalination plants in WA that run mostly off wind power. You would think water scarcity/security would be a top priority, so building more would be a priority.
There is also some opportunity for pumped hydro (far cheaper to run and maintain than coal-fired power stations) despite the lack of a prominent mountain range. Just needs someone to put up the money.
I can't speak for the rest of Europe and Scandinavia but that is how it has been in Norway for many decades. I buy my electricity from one entity and I pay a fixed fee for the connection plus a fee proportional to the usage for the transport to another entity that provides the connection.
The point in the article is that WA's grid is isolated from the Eastern States' grid. If there was any hope of "following the sun" (or indeed the wind) to leverage the geographic diversity that is Oz' one true strength, those networks would need to be interconnected.
Sounds like a case of perfect being the enemy of good enough. Split the energy storage capacity across the two and get on with it.
In particular, the Cooper Basin project, while technically viable with demonstrated generation capacity, died after failing to get investment needed for a transmission line. At the same meeting I referred to in my top post, I also heard that the CB project was about 600 km away from the nearest transmission lines.
N.B. I was not working on that project, so my knowledge is not firsthand.
Birdsville Qld, is still the only operating geothermal power generation plant in Oz as far as I'm aware.
If you are only interested in hot springs, there are developed baths on the Mornington Peninsula in Vic.
But getting our government to do anything that isn't coal related. Pfft.
Having said that, I feel like some regulation mandating a certain amount of storage be supplied with rooftop solar wouldn't be a bad thing. It doesn't seem responsible to set up generation capacity without the storage to buffer the effect of that capacity's generation on the grid.
1. could be loosely verified - mid-day black-outs were a common occurrence on extremely hot days in Sydney, esp. in the noughties. Or was the grid just not up to it? Lucky they over-spent on it.
2. price gouging is still be rampant, the rates are still as high as ever, and solar feed in tariffs are a joke; If we're swimming in free/cheap electricity, where is the lowering of the rate? and why is green energy still much higher for the consumer? Good reasons I'm sure... probably something along the lines of "the grid can't handle it".
3. Given that we're now (apparently) swimming in all this extra grid-damaging power, maybe it was the solar that really stopped the blackouts - after all, the air-con comes on when the sun shines! Just tell everyone to turn on their air-con. That should solve it!
Good luck to anyone trying to get a clear answer on any of it - like it's been noted, too many vested interests in politics and the media. My view: go-off grid as soon as you can.
The problem is that Australia is so married to coal that they have no national electrical grid strategy, including transmission line investment, so it’s harder to get generation to load centers (“follow the sun” generation”). They also don’t have natural gas to fill in when renewable generation dips (unlike the US).
The solution is going to be a lot of utility battery storage (Hornsdale Power Reserve Tesla battery is currently being expanded, for example), more renewables, and actual transmission infrastructure investment.
We have this:
Also, we have plenty of natural gas:
Also, there are natural gas reserves, it just doesn’t appear it’s used extensively for electrical generation based on historical ElectricityMap.org data.
There is no way that spending the enormous amount required to connect it to the east coast grid would be an efficient use of resources.
It’s not just about existing load centers (the population you mention), but possible future generators (big solar plants in the middle of the desert).
Probably because it's all shipped offshore.
If I recall, that’s where the latest Mad Max film was filmed.
Also, the last Mad Max was mostly filmed in Namibia. The older ones were filmed in Australia, notably Coober Pedy, which is north of Adelaide and not near the Nullarbor.
The originals were filmed just outside Broken Hill actually. There is a sign on the highway way to Mildura, and there is a big lot where you can see some of the props from Number 3 (notably the plane). I grew up in Mildura.
Also, the latest was filmed in Messum Crater in Namibia, I spent some time exploring there too - (bottom half of this post/pictures) http://theroadchoseme.com/riverbeds-and-craters
You're correct about the second being up Broken Hill way.
This won't happen because it would be politically difficult, and because the power companies would lose a lot of money as consumption fell through the floor. They don't want too much battery for a while because this would require them to move from a usage model to a majority fixed fee billing. To reduce public outrage the changeover needs to be slow.
Why would we go to all the expense to build a long distance HVDC link for that, anyway? WA's grid has very different capacity demands from the NEM grid for the east coast. The difference in populations (and energy needs) is huge.
Makes a ton more sense to invest in energy storage systems on each side than to dump tens of thousands of tons of copper in the ground to build a pointless link.
The Nullarbor is a vast, arid, unpopulated plain over 1000km wide. I think the comment was meant to suggest that infrastructure projects like this are challenging in Australia, because the distances involved make them expensive, but the low population density makes them much less profitable than in places like the US and Europe with high population densities.
Many tourists from other parts of the world come to Australia thinking they can "just drive" from Melbourne to Cairns or Perth to Adelaide, not realizing how much of an undertaking that is because they don't have a good sense of the distances involved.
"West Australians who applied for rooftop solar panels from the 1st of July 2010 till the 30 of June 2011 could lock in a 40 cent feed-in tariff for 10 years and those who applied in July 2011 could lock in 20 cents for 10 years." 
"The current Rebate subsidises 54% of the price when purchasing a Solar System for a home or property." 
If it weren't for that pesky non-compete clause with the evil villain run government.
Best article on it IMO (2014):
Renewables require additional grid maintenance costs (storage + two-way distribution) while simultaneously prompting more consumers to buy less conventional energy from utilities. Historically, utilities made money from selling electricity. Now they have fewer customers and higher costs. They have to charge higher prices to the fewer customers. Then more people want to choose renewables. This keeps going until the utilities bankrupt.
The solution is to change the business model for utilities, which are regulated monopolies. So it's a policy question. Absent strong leadership, the utilities tend to claw back against renewables instead of innovating (saga of Nevada)...
fun fact: this is named after ants, where some species will literally march around in circles to starvation if the pheromone scent trails get tangled up.
As a business model they get to charge for storage maintenance and generation when needed. Storage is a consistent amount of money with extra coming in from power generation as needed.
All sorts of solutions need to be combined to upgrade the the grid to something which is ready to accommodate so many renewables. Breakthroughs in battery technology need to happen very soon (globally). Hopefully the push from large nation states and the accompanying investments in it will make this possible.
An interesting problem here is energy security, especially for places like hospitals or the military. You do not want a country who's critical infrastructure relies on the power generation of suburban rooftop solar but unfortunately the large amount in WA, Aus seems to indicate that might be a possibility.
At the very least, a move away from coal is needed. Even though natural gas isn't ideal as a final destination, it might be needed in the iterim. Quick fire up/down during rapid demand change periods is needed to allow the shift to renewables to happen. Sadly, building natural gas generators - even if with the aim of supporting renewables long-term - would probably be met with opposition by some on the eco-left in WA. Worth a shot though.
Load leveling is a problem that must be solved to go beyond fossil fuels, and even without climate concerns we will run out of cheap easy fossil fuels eventually anyway.
E.g. aluminum is used everywhere, the ore is also everywhere it's 8% of the crust, the major cost to convert ore into metal is electricity. Can't they engineer a robotic aluminum factory which scales fast enough to capture the cheap power?
It seems that at least some of australias smelters haven't caught up with that development yet: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/31/austra...
This is why our project, Terrament, is studying this problem and working on a solution. https://www.terramenthq.com/
Oh no. What a tragedy.
Gas plants, however, are quite fast, so if this leads to coal plants becoming obsolete, that's win all around even if it requires more gas power in the interim.
Diversity in renewables, diversity in their placement (it's unlikely for the wind to be zero everywhere), and stuff like energy storage (which Australia is very successfully experimenting with on moderate scales: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/18/tesla-big...) goes a long way.
Or, at the very least, a system where excess grid power is used to store gravitational potential energy in a reservoir.
The battery was never meant to supply "South Australia's electricity needs" and quoting that shows how the anti-renewables lobby in Australia has corrupted the debate.