As the federal government looks for ways to fix looming gas shortages, tech billionaires have hatched a plan via Twitter to put batteries in South Australia.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has summoned gas industry executives to a meeting in Canberra on Wednesday following a report by the Australian Energy Market Operator that flagged domestic gas and electricity shortages within the next few years.
Executives attending the meeting with Mr Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will include the heads of Shell, Santos and Origin Energy.
“We welcome the invitation from the prime minister to discuss the current gas market issues, so that we can work together to find solutions to increase supply and put downward pressure on prices for customers,” a spokesman for Origin Energy told AAP.
Executives from ExxonMobil and three export-focused liquefied natural gas projects in Queensland are also expected to attend.
Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler hasn’t been invited and hopes more than just “talk and blame shifting” will result.
“This is a genuine crisis that will only get worse without real leadership from the national government,” he told AAP.
“It’s good if they’re finally waking up to it, even if dangerously late.”
Independent MP Bob Katter has flagged his intention to legislate a reserve policy, where a proportion of gas mined in Australia is kept aside for the domestic market.
Meanwhile, Tesla boss Elon Musk has thanked the many Australians who supported his plan to fix South Australia’s energy crisis with large-scale battery storage.
He said installing a 100 megawatt battery farm would cost $250 per megawatt hour, but promised to do it for free if it took longer than 100 days.
The tech entrepreneur spoke separately with Mr Turnbull and SA premier Jay Weatherill at the weekend about the future of electricity supply in Australia.
On Monday he singled out Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has vowed to secure political support and funding if Tesla supplied the batteries.
“@mcannonbrookes Can only happen with your support, and working closely with key govt and utility leaders who are strongly committed to trying new approaches,” Mr Musk tweeted.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said he had “big (money) commitments pouring in” and asked if 10 such battery installations would be possible.
Local investor Lyon Solar is already working with and American company on a 200-250MW battery project in the state, which it hopes to have installed before next summer.
“South Australia is the global epicentre for the imminent take-off of large-scale battery-based energy storage, which can solve power challenges like SA’s in months, not years,” Lyon partner David Green said.
Other local companies Zen Energy and Carnegie Energy are also reportedly looking at having large-scale battery farms running by next summer.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the government should be holding wider talks about the gas crisis.
“It’s no good just talking to the gas companies without talking to the states and the consumers,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“It’s a national emergency. We should be working together.”