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Tesla big battery officially switched on in South Australia

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The Tesla big battery – the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery storage installation to date – was officially switched on in South Australia on Friday, a day after it had already demonstrated its value by injecting energy into the grid during the previous day’s afternoon peak.

South Australia premier Jay Weatherill, whose government has provided the subsidy for the battery to be built on the grid with the largest penetration of wind and solar anywhere in the world, described it as a “landmark moment”.

“This means that, for the first time, clean and affordable wind energy can be dispatched to the grid 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether the wind is blowing or not, improving system reliability,” Weatherill said.

And to prove the point, the Tesla battery was used a day earlier to meet soaring demand in the local afternoon peak as temperatures spiked into the mid and high 30°Cs and wind energy eased off as many people turned on their air conditioners.

Horsndale power reserve copy

The 100MW/129MWh battery discharged up to 70MW into the grid during the afternoon peak (in blue), using wind output it had stored earlier in the day (in red).

The intervention meant that less gas generation was needed, and prices (black line) were moderated. That is expected to be the pattern in the future.

Much has been made of the “billionaire tweets” and the 100 day installation “or it’s free” promise by Elon Musk, but in the end the only deadline it had to meet was that of December 1, imposed by the state government contract. Be ready for summer. And it is.

The battery is made up of a series of 100kWh Tesla Powerpack battery storage units, and is connected to the grid next to the 315MW Hornsdale wind farm. It will be owned and operated by French renewable energy developer Neoen, which built the wind farm.

Click on image for video of Neoen Hornsdale Battery

Click on image for video of Neoen Hornsdale Battery

The battery has been tested over the past week after construction was completed ahead of time, showing its flexibility, and value.

It marks a momentous day for the national grid, and a major step towards a modern network that will ultimately deliver cheaper, cleaner, smarter and more reliable energy than we have now.

The push for battery storage was made by the South Australian government following the state-wide system black last year, and particularly the load shedding that occurred in February when one of the country’s biggest and most efficient gas generators sat idle while tens of thousands of consumers had their power cut off.

It is expected to be just the first of a number of battery storage installations in South Australia, and across the country, and will be followed by a number of pumped hydro projects too.

Weatherill said South Australia, which now leads the world with the amount of wind and solar in its grid (more than 50 per cent, and more than 60 per cent in the last two months), is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy.

“This is history in the making,” he said. “Neoen and Tesla approached the state government with their bold plan to deliver this project, and they have met all of their commitments, ensuring South Australia has back up power this summer.

“I want to express my gratitude to the workers who have constructed this battery – they have every right to be proud of what they’ve constructed.”

Neoen deputy CEO Romain Desrousseaux said the battery – officially known to the market as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – will help South Australia lead the way into a clean energy future.

Neoen is also building several solar farms in Victoria and NSW, and all up has some 1GW of projects in the pipeline, including a unique wind farm and battery storage project that will supply Australia’s largest glasshouse for growing vegetables with 100 per cent renewable energy.

Tesla said in a statement that the completion of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in record time shows that a sustainable, effective energy solution is possible.

“We are proud to be part of South Australia’s renewable energy future, and hope this project provides a model for future deployments around the world,” it said.

“The South Australian government should be congratulated for ensuring their energy supply is not only sustainable, but will help solve power shortages, reduce variability, and manage summertime peak load.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk did not attend the formal opening.

  

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  • Darren

    Aussie Aussie Aussie

    • GlennM

      While I am delighted this is happening Darren, Should you have not said, French,Yank, Aussie… Neon is french, Tesla is American and the plant is in Australia…

      • Darren

        Those are semantics, it happened in Aus. We’re leading the rest for now. Does their origin really matter at that point?

        • GlennM

          You are right the origin does not matter, glad it is happening and glad that there are so many good people in Aussie working towards these achievements,

          • rob

            In S.A. so it seems…….I’m so proud of my state right now…….60% renewables over the last 2 months and way above 50% normally…….Nowhere else in Australia has and Government done so much in such a short time! The Liberal opposition here in S.A. want to scrap the Renewable Energy Targets………good luck to then on that come the March election!

          • GlennM

            I am not there and cannot vote..but is seems like you should do some volunteering and door knocking for the election, every mind you change will be valuable..

          • rob

            Dreaming……I charge $450.00 per hour for my services……I donate at least $5k per month to the Greens and Labor…….and other nature related causes…..Do you?

          • GlennM

            Rob I am not Australian, and my family gifting program is not public. Rgds

          • rob

            I’d likely punch half of hissy pines voters in the the face…….meet him once at a gay beat….eeeewwwwwww

          • Blue Gum

            Tasmania?

          • rob

            I have mentioned tassie in many previous posts……..but that was down to ‘BOB BROWN” and the greens…..Most of tassie despised him and green technology so you don’t deserve a mention….sorry if you voted correctly!

            cheers rob

    • DevMac

      South Aussie South Aussie South Aussie!

  • ChrisEcoSouth

    Will be fascinating to watch the ongoing market effect it has.
    I would also be really interested to know what sort of thermal control these batteries have, beyond any internal system. We all *know* how hot it gets, and the idea is to stop the sun’s radiant heat getting to the battery modules, to avoid the direct sun overloading their thermal control on continuous 35+ degree days. – I don’t see any radiant barriers above the equipment in the picture – not a good look.

    • Alex Davies

      Put a shading solar array over the batteries, perhaps…

    • BushAxe

      They have an internal cooling system and seeing they’re already in use in California I doubt heat is an issue they haven’t already encountered.

    • Hettie

      Are those white, clearly ventilated casings not a mini shelter for each module?
      Must say, though, that the notion of a series of solar panels shading the modules has the appeal of elegant simplicity.
      Anyone know the dimensions of those modules?

      • Trevor Toomer

        Size of shipping containers.

    • GregS

      n/m

  • Ray Miller

    Congratulations SA, Elon, and his team and on site workers in Aus and Premier Jay for the boldness to proceed under pressure.
    The significant installation is there for all to see let alone I would expect significant savings on the wholesale price, having MWs in milli seconds fast response, yet just a simple 5 minute rule change requiring a pen by AEMC to achieve significant savings to all customers fails to happen until 2021!
    I would expect significant ongoing savings, even without the AEMC rule change which would further improve the economics, may more than enough pay for the battery this summer, everyone will want one.
    The AEMC is more likely than not to be run over, the speed and size of the train is so large. The AEMC will be consigned to history with a short byline on the back page of the Murdock press, but then again no one reads the paper.

    • neroden

      The incumbent market-manipulators have bought the Australian federal government and used red tape to make their profits.

      Tesla and Jay Weatherill have made an end-run around them using technology.

      Technology does cost more upfront than bribing the government to create red tape… but it also is unbeatable. Tech wins over red tape.

  • Joe

    A joyous moment to be sure, Premier Jay and his SA citizens can rightly feel immense pride. The Naysayers ( COALition ) haven’t said a peep. I guess they are far too engrossed with that self made clusterf**k….. Banking Royal Commission.

  • Olwen2050

    A great day for SA and the environment. This will put Jay Weatherill and SA Labor on the front foot for the state election in March. Meanwhile, SA Libs want to scrap the state’s renewable energy target. Will they ever learn?

    • JWW

      They don’t want to learn, or rather do the right thing. That is the whole story. Malcom Turnbull has a large (10kW or more?) solar system on his roof. Plus battery storage. He knows exactly what is possible today.

      • Kevfromspace

        14kW of solar, and a few LG Chem batteries to boot. The story goes that he loves pulling up the data monitoring on the screens in his office.

  • Hettie

    The mega battery fully functional 3 months after the contract was signed, and 5, 6 months after the idea was first mooted.
    Snowy 2, announced the same day. Uummm, where is that up to, again???
    Large scale solar, wind farms, up and running in around 2 years.
    Coal fired power stations, 5, 8, 10 years from approval to commissioning. Or abandoned as uneconomic.
    Malcolm, what was that again about nimble and innovative?

    • Mike Westerman

      Come now Hettie – the nimble and agile was referring to helicopter flights to the Snowy!

      • Hettie

        Oh, of course. Silly me.

  • Jon

    It will have a pretty big effect even under the 30 minute rule, it’s use yesterday got rid of what looked like it was going to be a massive price spike.
    It’ll help keep the thieves a little honest.

  • Marg1

    Well done Elon Musk and Jay Weatherall for showing great leadership and innovation, something sorely lacking in the Federal LNP government.

  • Robert Westinghouse

    It happened, it was on-time and it proves science and the public good have (this time) triumphed over vested interests (LNP & Big Power). Congratulations SA – you had the balls and spine to tell the Feds to ….

  • Hugh Sharman

    I see that Musk has lots of adoring fans in this posting. But TESLA is first and foremost a business. It is losing spectacular quantities of money in every sector. Can anyone tell me whether this project has been profitable for TESLA and if so what his contract with SA was worth. I also read that SA’s Government subsidized the project. By how much please?

    These many months after the announcement of the deal, I have little idea what it cost and therefore its applicability for real markets where subsidy is unaffordable.

    • George Michaelson

      Excuse me? Real markets are subsidised markets. There is nothing unreal about price supportive behaviours. Your flying a false story: every single real market Holden car had thousands of dollars of government backing. Every single tonne of exported coal from Adani has government support in direct and indirect ways. There is no real and unreal market. If you want to bask Tesla fine, but don’t make believe there is any other market than the distorted ones we all live in.

      • J J Brough

        Dear George,
        I am about to enter my 84th year and having had market experience I disagree with your statement that real markets are subsidised markets.
        Real markets are not subsidised. I support solar, wind , tidal and wave, coal, gas and nuclear. Sorry, I forgot the promise of geothermal electricity.
        Subsidies help to establish technologies but should not become a fixture in the economy.
        Oddly enough, Germany wants to shut down its low CO2 nuclear generators and will build more coal to compensate. Has no plans to subsidise more wind and solar.

        • Mike Westerman

          Wishful thinking JJ – our tax acts are loaded with concessions and rebates. Why is debt given a concession over and above equity? Why is capital taxed differently to labour? Governments implement policy thru tax, rejigging markets. The only market likely to vaguely approach “free” is likely to be your local Saturday veggie market.

          • neroden

            Permitting is another way all markets are subsidized or penalized.

            Rules regarding pollution (can you dump on your neighbor’s property for free?) are another way markets are subsidized.

            All markets are regulated markets. Period.

    • Tom

      Why don’t you short-sell some Tesla shares? Good luck!

    • J J Brough

      Hugh,
      I wonder when the bubble will burst. Storage of electricity on an industrial scale means more mining, pollution, waste and energy to provide batteries.
      Coal and nuclear plants work well.
      South Australia demolished a coal-fired power station but relies on coal-fired electricity from Victoria.

      • Mike Westerman

        JJ the owner of non-viable asset demolished it, in the same way most of us ditch worthless items. Global production of lithium, to address your other inaccurate comment, was about 33,000t, compared to 3billion tonnes of coal. Every ton of coal mined releases 7-10m3 of methane, one of the most greenhouse intense gases. The damage of coal mining goes out of sight compared to any other industrial activity.

        Further, if you researched the facts instead of publishing baseless opinions, you would see SA is well on the way to being a net exporter of power to Vic.

    • neroden

      OK, here’s the real fact: Tesla makes money on every single business it operates.

      They make just about enough money to cover overhead. They don’t make enough to cover R&D yet.

      They need to expand, do more volume per year, to make more of a profit.

  • Hugh Sharman

    Let’s hope it does not catch fire, like so many TESLA cars. This is this week’s lithium battery fire news https://www.youtube.com/wat

    • Mike Westerman

      And of course that link doesn’t work because the claim is baseless…

    • neroden

      Wow, your false right-wing talking points are out of date. In fact, gasmobiles catch fire *more* often than Teslas. You’re much safer in a Tesla than in a gas car.

    • Ian

      A gas powered bus burst into flames this week in Sydney…. Following a diesel bus doing the same over the harbour bridge a few months ago. Fires in ICE cars vehicles is a daily occurrence

      • hydrophilia

        I haven’t checked the actual data or run numbers, but what matters is chance of fire per mile driven. Right now there are far fewer electric miles driven per day than ICE, so one would expect far more ICE fires.
        Just speaking for reason… while hoping the Ludites fail spectacularly and soon.

    • Joe Viocoe

      This is NOT a Tesla fire!
      I can only count on one hand the number of Tesla fires.

      EV and grid storage battery fires are very rare compared to gasoline and diesel fires.
      And you contradict yourself when you say, “this week’s fire” and proceed to show an unrelated fire from 3 weeks ago. The fire before that was probably months ago, if not years.

  • remoteone

    I wonder if the writing on the wall is yet clear enough for the money driven Murdocks of the world to jump ship? It’s only a matter of time before the imagination-wanting profiteers do an about face and headline their devotion to environmental power generation or at least cash-cows in the shape of batteries.