German energy giant Sonnen has officially opened its home battery assembly site at the old Holden factory in Adelaide’s north.
At least 50 new employees have started over the past few weeks, with all of the production roles held by former employees of the car brand.
Former Holden worker Adam Williams left three years ago and said it was surreal coming back to his old workplace in Elizabeth.
“It’s a little bit heartbreaking because two years ago this place was abuzz,” he said.
“We were pumping out cars. There was thousands of people here.
“To walk in today and you can walk through the assembly plant and it’s quiet, it’s a little bit emotional.”
Now 14 people who worked for Holden are back on the floor and Mr Williams said the excitement had returned to the workplace.
“It’s great to see some industry coming back and growing the site again and giving the northern suburbs an opportunity to get some jobs back into the area,” he said.
Sonnen chief executive Christoph Ostermann said he was especially happy to be at the Holden plant because it was a symbol for industrial tradition in Australia.
More than 430 jobs will be created before the end of 2019, with at least 100 people employed by the end of this year.
“We are already growing and shipping the first systems for the plant … we already created another 100 indirect jobs as well,” he said.
“It’s the first storage system and manufacturing plant in Australia … we want to leave a sustainable imprint on both ends for the environment and the economy.”
‘Largest virtual power network in the world’
A partnership program has also been formed with TAFE SA to train installers on the new energy storage technology.
Premier Steven Marshall said having Sonnen’s manufacturing centre for Australia, Asia and the south Pacific in Adelaide was a significant step in the revitalisation of the state’s industry base.
This comes after the state government announced its $100 million investment in home battery storage in an effort to deliver cheaper, more reliable energy.
Under the scheme, 40,000 South Australian households will have access to grants of up to $6000 and low-interest loans. Nearly 4000 residents have already asked for quotes.
Mr Ostermann said his company would like to deploy more than 50,000 systems over next five years.
“We’d like to create in South Australia, one of the largest virtual power networks in the world to support grid infrastructure and supply customers in South Australia with clean and affordable grid power,” he said.