Wind farm proves it can provide cheaper, more precise grid security than gas generators

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Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm with the Tesla big battery in the foreground.

French renewable energy developer Neoen has hailed the results of its ground-breaking trial using a wind farm to provide frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS) to the Australian grid – noting it had cut prices and delivered a more “precise” service to the market operator.

The trials on the Hornsdale 2 wind farm – part of the huge 315MW Hornsdale wind complex that now includes the Tesla big battery, officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – conducted its first trials earlier this year, as RenewEconomy noted at the time.

The trial was significant for many reasons – one, it coincided with a major “peak” FCAS event – caused by maintenance work on the inter-connector to Victoria – that would have sent prices to $9,000MW or more in normal circumstances.

However, the intervention of the Hornsdale wind farm, along with the Tesla big battery, slashed those prices to $300/MW.

It was the first concrete sign of how new technologies could break up the fossil fuel cartel that had been extracting high prices from the grid for years. See our story Tesla big battery is already bringing Australia’s gas cartel to heel.

What’s more, the FCAS delivered by the Hornsdale turbines over the trials delivered greater response precision, when compared to conventional generators, and provided an “enhanced stabilisation” of the electricity grid.

In short, it showed that grid stability and security is not as dependent on coal and gas generators as many people would make it out to be.

The trials enhance the likelihood that the energy transition will bring new technology that can deliver cheaper, smarter, cleaner and more reliable grids than before.

“We are used to hearing people blame wind farms for rising instability, now we can see it is the opposite. – we are proving that the integration of renewables is going to be easier than thought and will provide real benefits to the market,” Neoen Australia’s Franck Woitiez told RenewEconomy.

“The accuracy and the speed of which frequency are injected into the network are of beneficial to all. And with the battery we can bring that to another level.”

Wind turbines have been providing FCAS to grids around the world, but this is the first time it has been trialled in Australia – and another trial will take place at the Mussellroe wind farm in Tasmania.

“The FCAS delivered from Hornsdale has already proved its impact on the market,” Woitiez said in an earlier statement.

“On the 14th of January, when FCAS Regulation prices were forecast to reach $9,000 per MWh – compared to the typical $20 per MWh – Neoen bid additional capacity into the market from both Hornsdale 2 and the Hornsdale Power Reserve.”

This brought the price down to below $300 for the duration of the interconnector maintenance, saving $3.1 million on a single day thanks to the increased competition.

“It’s a great initiative for the nation, for companies and for Australian pockets,” Woitiez said.

The new revenue streams from FCAS has more than offset losses accrued by the energy production restrictions required to deliver FCAS. The initiative provides an economically viable and sustainable model for the Australian energy system.

FCAS is used by the Australian Energy Market Operator to sustain the frequency of electricity delivery into the nation’s electrical system, with the aim of maintaining a balance between electricity generation and national demand.

Neoen, which reportedly is preparing for a stock exchange listing later this year, says the flexibility of the wind turbines at Hornsdale, developed by Siemens-Gamesa, allows for rapid and accurate response to control signals from AEMO.

It says that these turbines deliver greater response precision, when compared to conventional generators, and provides an enhanced stabilisation of the electricity grid.

“Neoen’s 24-hour control centre dispatched the wind farm into the FCAS markets under a wide range of conditions. The results of the trials confirmed the turbines’ response times were not impacted by gusts, ramping or strong winds.”

“We are used to hearing people blame wind farms for rising instability. Now we realise it is the opposite. we just proving that integration of renewables is going to be easier and provide benefits to the market.

The accuracy and the speed of which frequency are injected into the network are of beneficial. And with the battery we can bring that to another level.”


  • Rod

    I would be interested to know to what extent this would reduce the maximum instantaneous output per turbine and a rough estimate of capacity factor over a year?
    I’m guessing fairly minimal seeing the FCAS income more than compensates for loss of output.
    Also, why is it we in Australia need to prove for ourselves something works when it has been proven overseas for Years? Nuts!

    • Peter F

      It has been used in limited circumstances overseas in what might be called “stiffer” grids, it is a different circumstance here in a long skinny grid with no hydro, (the next best spinning reserve) so it is good that they did a properly controlled trial.
      However if Musselroe with older turbines and no batteries also proves a success this is a valuable new revenue stream for windfarms thus lowering their breakeven even further.
      At the same time it reduces the revenue for FF plants and thus is a double benefit for the renewable transition.
      As far as I know most of the revenue comes from synthetic inertia so that would involve very little reduction in power. If it is for 60 second or 6 minute raise then they may have to keep some power in reserve but not for lowering but even that would be supplied from capacitor banks or high power low duration batteries

      • For this type of short-term, rapid response energy storage, Flywheels may also be an option. See “Flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) are especially well-suited to several applications including electric service power quality and reliability, ride-through while gen-sets start-up for longer term backup, area regulation, fast area regulation and frequency response.” at

        • Peter F

          Flywheels are very good for short term response but at the rate that battery prices are falling it looks like the niche will be very small

      • Rod

        I had assumed it would mean throttling the output via feathering the blades or keeping the unit turned slightly out of the wind to be able to raise when asked.

        • Peter F

          Reg up reg down uses the wind turbine as a flywheel, it can apply quite well for the 6 second raise and lower market and can contribute something to the 60 second market. However beyond that you are right, if you want to contribute to the 6 minute market then the systems ave to be run below capacity

  • D. John Hunwick

    Good news for Jay Weatherill! What he plans for the future is proving very possible. AS for Marshall – don’t holler for one!! It would be recipe for disaster.

  • solarguy

    Lies, lies…………………….only gas, oil and coal can provide what a reliable grid needs.

    These whirligig thingies will send us all insane and long blackouts will be the new normal! SA will become an economic wreak.

    • Rod

      But, but , but we need inertia, syncronous, baseload, something something.

      • Peter Campbell

        They certainly are trying to give us inertia! The thing with inertia though is that when it gets moving it’s momentum.

        • Rod

          Yes the RE momentum has started and every new announcement is increasing that momentum. Unstoppable now.

    • Chris Fraser

      Just tell those synchro-nazis where to get off !

    • Rob Kuys

      Bahahahahanby u troll

      • Hettie

        Solar guy was being sarcastic. Check his archive (by clicking/ touching his avatar) and you will see it is so.

        • solarguy

          “To know me is to love me.”

          • Rob Kuys

            Dont care for sarcasm
            Or fuckwits like u

          • Hettie

            I do understand. It’s much too subtle for crude, foulmouthed idiots.

        • Rob Kuys

          If he wants to call me a troll for making a comment about evacuated tube hot water then fuck him and the cock he is sucking..if he gives me grief he will get back 10 fold

      • solarguy

        Oh shit I’ve been pinged. The only thing left to do is get Donald Trump pregnant as many times as possible, plenty of right wing babies and make AMERICA GREAT AGAIN !

        • Rob Kuys

          Why dont you get pregnant u fuckwit…put the whole conversation up cockswoller..

        • Rob Kuys

          You are a fuckwit
          No doubt about it….
          I make a comment and you call me a troll…then keep giving me shit…i hope looking for work on this site goes well now 4 you…not

          • solarguy

            You are a moronic dole bludging troll, now F#@K OFF.

  • RobertO

    Hi All, There was a company in New Zealand (Now moved to Britian) called Windflow Technolodgies (the build WTG) whom were offering this product for sale. It could be fitted to any size WTG including exiting WTG’s (no size limits).

  • Ray Miller

    Well done Neoen and AEMO.
    This trial and does show the added capabilities and value that wind turbines are capable of.
    This also does elude to the capabilities possible in a range of existing technologies. Most of the new PV inverters are capable of power factor control, they only require a PLC monitoring the measured power factor at the customer boundary and then controlling the inverter reducing the customers kVA demand and lowering the demand charges. And of course the number of trials of the virtual battery conducting many small units into one large one.

  • Alex Hromas

    Interesting point, most of the SA wind turbines are asynchronous machines and hence need a grid reference voltage and frequency before they can start to generate. They cannot supply power to the grid in a truly “island” situation. This limited their capability to relieve the situation when the SA grid was damaged. If the inverters on the Tesla battery are self commutating they can provide the grid reference in the absence of any other supply. This opens up a whole new scenario in terms of reliability and wind turbine operation. The asynchronous machines are generally cheaper than synchronous units which can generate in an island in theory but the combination of asynchronous units coupled with battery would provide a distinctive advantage. Any comments please

    • Mike Westerman

      I think Alex that is why most pumped hydro at deciding variable speed is not worth it – better stay synchronous and have black start and strong frequency/voltage regulation capabilities, and let wind play in fast response space.