Tesla big battery adds new capacity and services on march to 100pct renewables grid | RenewEconomy

Tesla big battery adds new capacity and services on march to 100pct renewables grid

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Tesla big battery in South Australia to get 50% bigger, and to provide critical “inertia” that will hasten the transition to a grid free of fossil fuels.

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French renewable energy and storage developer Neoen has confirmed that the so-called Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in South Australia will get a 50 per cent lift in capacity, and add new innovations and services that will help pave the way for the state to reach its goal of “net 100 per cent renewables”.

As reported exclusively in RenewEconomy on Monday, the battery – officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – will be the first in Australia to provide digital – or “virtual” – inertia to the grid, an important network service previously only delivered only by synchronous machines (coal, gas and hydro).

It is estimated that the upgraded battery could provide 3,000 “megawatt seconds”, or 50 per cent of the state’s inertia requirements, meaning that gas generators can be used more sparingly when there is enough wind and solar to meet the state’s electricity demand. It’s another key marker on the road to eliminating fossil fuels from the grid.

The addition of hundreds of new Tesla Powerpack batteries – at a cost of $71 million – will add 50MW/64.5MWh capacity to the existing facilities of 100MW/129MWh, lifting its capacity by 50 per cent and reinforcing its ranking as the biggest lithium-ion battery in the world.

The new addition is being supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, as reported by RenewEconomy on Monday, along with the Clean Energy Finance Corp, and the South Australia government.

ARENA is kicking in $8 million, the South Australia government is putting in $3 million a year for 5 years (on top of its $4 million a year for 10 year commitment to the original installation for emergency grid support), while it is the first battery to get debt financing support from the CEFC.

Neoen said the inertia benefits – dubbed by Tesla as its Virtual Machine Mode (VMM) – would facilitate the transition towards a high-penetration renewable grid. In South Australia, the state Liberal government has a target of “net 100 per cent renewables’ by around 2030.

Neoen noted that in its first full year of operation, the battery saved consumers more than $50 million, and these savings would continue to grow once the new addition was in place in 2020. It also earned a profit of $22 million in its first full year of operations.

“Alongside additional power system reliability and continued cost savings to consumers, the expansion will provide an Australian-first large-scale demonstration of the potential for battery storage to provide inertia to the network which is critical to grid stability and the future integration of renewable energy,” Neoen said in a statement.

“This will ensure South Australia can continue to harvest its world-class wind and solar resources and support the transition to net 100% renewable energy generation in the 2030s, and further drive down electricity prices for all consumers.”

South Australia energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement the Hornsdale Power Reserve will continue to break new ground in providing and proving the benefits of inertial response from inverter technologies.

It is the first project to get funding from its $50 million grid storage fund announced last year, in which it promised to “unlock the hidden value of battery storage” – a reference to the many different services that batteries can provide, many of which are not recognised by market or regulatory signals.

“As South Australia continues to increase its share of renewable energy generation, large-scale storage solutions such as grid-scale batteries will help address some of the key challenges impacting South Australia’s power system, such as energy reliability and inertia,” van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement.

“By providing an additional 50MW of fast ramping market capacity it is designed to reduce spot price volatility and protect the grid from network disturbances, resulting in more affordable, reliable, and secure power for all South Australians.”

The state has recently committed to installing four synchronous condensers around its network to provide the inertia and system strength needed for the grid. That move means the Australian Energy Market Operator will not need to turn to gas generators in the state for system inertia, and so will increase the percentage of renewables.

However, synchronous condensers are a 50-year-old technology, and it is thought that batteries – which can perform up to 20 other different services – will be a cheaper and smarter option for a high renewables grid.

If it proves its worth, it will also mean that the haphazard installation of synchronous condensers elsewhere in the grid, the result of much criticised rules imposed by the Australian Energy Market Commission, will come to an end. Leading utilities like Transgrid have warned that the grid is being put at risk, rather than enhanced, by the scattering of these machines across the network.

Louis de Sambucy, the recently appointed managing director of Neoen Australia, said the support of the South Australian Government has been central to the project, alongside “its vision” of making the state an exporter of renewable energy.

“The expansion of Hornsdale Power Reserve is demonstrating the critical and multiple roles that batteries will play in the grid of the future,” he said in a statement.

“I would also like to acknowledge the great support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to bring forward the critical innovations and regulatory changes that the network requires, and of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for this first financing support for a battery project.”

Darren Miller, the CEO of ARENA, said the Hornsdale battery has already proven what batteries can do for our electricity system, and this expansion will show that it is also capable of much more by demonstrating inertia, expanded FCAS functionality and extended support for the Heywood inter-connector.

“Along with providing essential services to the South Australian grid, this will help to inform the regulatory changes required to value these services and create additional revenue markets for other batteries to enter the market on a commercial basis,” Miller said.

“We hope this project will not only demonstrate the versatility of batteries in providing a range of grid services but also help pave the way for market reform.”

Ian Learmonth, the head of the CEFC, said grid-scale batteries are a critical part of the next wave of investment that will support the rapid and unprecedented changes we are seeing across Australia’s electricity system.

“By delivering the first project financing of a stand-alone NEM-connected battery in the Australian market, our goal is to demonstrate the market potential of grid technologies for other investors and developers. We are delighted to work with an industry leader such as Neoen in this project.”

Tesla will deliver the new facility on a “turn-key” basis and notes that the battery will mimic the inertial response of traditional synchronous generators. And, at 150MW, the batteries will rival gas turbine units at most of the other gas plants in the state – an unthinkable achievement just five years ago.

Federal energy minister Angus Taylor was invited to the launch event,vbut declined.

The federal Coalition government hasn’t had anything nice to say about batteries, least of all this one, with the prime minister Scott Morrison describing it as “about as useful as the Big Banana”. Resources minister Matt Canavan, who likes to describe himself as “Mr Coal from Australia”, once compared the battery to the social media influencers the Kardashians.

In a later statement, Taylor said the expansion “will improve response times on the worst days when demand is at its highest and the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”

“Projects like this, combined with the gas and pumped hydro projects that are coming online, are extremely important to the future integration of renewable energy to the South Australian grid”, said Taylor.

We’re not entirely convinced the minister understands what the project is about, as the developers say it more likely to be used when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, and will reduce curtailment of those technologies because gas generators will not be needed..


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  1. Craig Fryer 9 months ago

    I suppose batteries have to demonstrate that they can provide inertia, but surely this demonstration could have been done a year ago with the existing system. Now money has been largely been wasted on synchronous condensers that would have been better spent on additional batteries, which would have done a better job.

    It is not clear yet if the SA gas power generators will be able to completely shut off with this in place. I suppose they first have to prove it works. AEMO may still require two providers of inertia in SA.

    • Andrew Roydhouse 9 months ago

      You do about know the speed of Govt Departments in making a decision that is not being publicised in social media don’t you?

      Working out what folder the file needed to go in must have required at least two committees.

  2. Ray Miller 9 months ago

    Hopefully this will change the engineering mindset on inertia and move away from those synchronous condensers. SA again showing leadership, exposing Minister Taylor actions or lack of.
    Maybe Reneweconomy could be a fly on the wall at the COAG meeting this week? All attending my need full PPE.

    Interesting by percentage growth batteries appear to be the fastest growing NEM plant.

  3. trackdaze 9 months ago

    It’s profitable and has saved consumers millions.

    Yet the federal LNP
    • Say it’s as useful as a big banana

    • Won’t turn up to the opening

    • And the worst Aust energy minister ever still rabbits on about the sun not shining and the wind not blowing. Whilst its saved us from record “coal not burning” failures.

    Got to be 10%+ of LNP voters that have buyers remorse?

  4. Pete 9 months ago

    SA and ACT are the only states (and territories) that can claim to be leading this transition, leaving the rest of us humbled. The air quality in Melb this morning was horrible, and then I read about Sydney.

    Go SA – where the air is clear and there’s better beer!

  5. Alan Wilson 9 months ago

    Great stuff well done …. if this takes the use of the battery to 50% of the states needs then lets build another one of same size or a bit bigger … the sooner the better …. if 2 at this size suit SA then Vic , NSW and QLD is going to need 6 to 8 batterys of this size … lets get on with it , get it done in the next 5 years … and more pump hydro but not snowy mountains too expensive …

  6. Jon 9 months ago

    Great news, hopefully with the HPR supplying a greater amount of the S.A.s inertia requirements and the 4 synchronous condensers coming the amount of gas generating being paid for this service reduces.
    This will have the gas generators only being paid for power generated rather than a service which will hopefully reduce the amount of time that the likes of Tailem Bend Solar turn off due to negative pricing.

    Congratulations to all those involved.
    Sympathy to those to corrupt to understand that this is a good thing for S.A., Australia and the World.

  7. BeanBoy 9 months ago

    Will it be completed in 50 days?

  8. Honest Mike 9 months ago

    great news although it does raise some questions around SA’s renewable strategy/knee jerk response……

    some of the the questions include…….what is “state’s inertia requirements”?never heard of inertia in reference to power requirements . exactly how many Megawatt hours is that? oh wait I am a long term unemployed engineer with a calculator! let me see, 3000Megawatt seconds divided by 60 seconds in a minute divided by 60 minutes in an hour….. carry the two…… I calculate that is 0.83Megawatt hrs???? which will provide 50% of SA’s inertia (WTF is inertia ???) … At this point I would like to make 3 observations……… 1.) this facility at best, will be for frequency management 2.) SA needs pumped hydro storage to keep long term unemployed engineers like myself “employed ” whilst solving SA’s grid instability problems observation 3.) It sounds like anarchists and socialists are making decision in SA because political rationalism seems to have gone out the window

    Giles has previously asserted (in quite a vindictive manner) that the SA grid does not have grid stability issues…..does this now mean that the SA political geniuses now concede that there is a grid stability problem?

    An American company called “Tesla” built the original site as a worlds first experimental technology! now we have a French company building an extension? Why not go back to the original vendor? what is the commercial procurement strategy being changed?

  9. Rod 9 months ago

    Angus Taylor is an idiot. That is all.

  10. Alastair Leith 9 months ago

    can a power engineer please describe how the HPR will provide grid inertia, and how that is substantively different from charging and discharging to move frequency down and up? how does increasing capacity from 100 MW (a 30/70 MW split in services) to 150 MW enabling this new service (for which there is no direct market, just the requirements for having a minimum number of gas turbines spinning and generating)?

    I understand Newton’s laws of motion, and how they apply to the rotational inertia of, say, a spinning turbine, just not sure what battery can do other than charge or discharge to provide these grid services, as ‘virtual inertia’ responding to changes in grid frequency.

    • Craig Fryer 9 months ago

      With a limited capacity, the battery can only do so many things at one time. With greater capacity it can provide a greater range of services.

  11. Paul McArdle 9 months ago

    In terms of the size of the contribution this new battery will make to inertia in the SA region of the NEM grid, this excerpt from the Generator Report Card will provide some useful context:

  12. Sunnyside Up 9 months ago

    Neoen noted that in its first full year of operation, the battery saved
    consumers more than $50 million, and these savings would continue to
    grow once the new addition was in place in 2020.

    News to me. I live in South Australia, I am an electricty consumer, and it didn’t save me a cent. There has been no decrease in my electricity price per kW. What a furphy.

    It also earned a profit of $22 million in its first full year of operations.

    Oh. I guess that’s what they were talking about. The $22 million profit it made for big business, investors and retailers plus the $50 million they saved whilst leaving electricity prices in SA at exactly the same historically high rate that they’ve always been.

    Sick of seeing these good news stories about SA and its large-scale renewables and how the price of electricity in SA is apparently going down and how wonderful it all is. For generators, investors and retailers that’s definitely the case, but not for the residents who are the ones receiving the electricity bills. The reality on the ground here for residential consumers is that electricity prices haven’t budged and there is no sign they will. Just more profit for generators, investors and retailers.

    If you want to see a drop in your electricity bill, purchase as many solar panels as possible and shove them on your roof (and even then, there is a 5kW feed-in limit), because if you’re waiting for a magical price drop for the residential consumer in SA, you may die waiting.

    For the residential consumer in SA, the 50% increase in the big battery, which the government threw some of our money at, incidentally, will doubtfully make a jot of difference to price per kW on your next bill. Or the one after. Or the one after that, ad infinitum.

  13. Ian 9 months ago

    The line servicing the horns dale project is 275KV this new addition can support 3000MWseconds that would suggest a current of about 11 thousand amps.

    The upgraded capacity is 150MW and the storage capacity about 190MWH . The upgrades suggest this battery can discharge at 3000MW in a second. Working this back, such an output would last 3.8 minutes.

    All truely impressive.

  14. JackD 9 months ago

    It would seem that the transmission network would need to be quite robust, to ensure that the beefed up HPR is not cut-off from the remainder of the SA Network by an unfortunate transmission related event.

    Time for a ring topology connecting the Mid-North to the greater Adelaide metro area and another ring connecting Greater Adelaide metro area with the South East Transmission Terminal located near Penola / Krongart.

    Perhaps Electranet has these topologies logically in place with its 275kV main network, perhaps not.


  15. WildcatterTX 9 months ago

    Beautiful. Does anyone know if this development has to do with the directions sent to gas units in SA for synchronicity? I believe it was about ~$9million and $140/MWh market last quarter.

    I know it’s not for “storage”, but I believe SA isn’t getting a significant grid battery until 2021 (relatively), so there will likely be even more negative pricing events next year. May pay to dabble here and there.

    Kinda interesting with this development, and Tesla having the other battery (Dalrymple?), along with the VPP. Range of interesting functionality and possible services.

  16. Seriously...? 9 months ago

    I think, like a lot of people, I’m struggling to understand the distinction between ‘virtual inertia’ and ‘frequency control services’. Is it a question of the scale of the reserve power? The ability to dampen transients? Surely the theory behind inertia is that a spinning mass will resist changes in frequency (although, having been dragged low or high, it will then also impede a return to standard frequency)? To an engineer, what practical result does inertia have beyond stabilising frequency through a reserve of energy? And how is this substantially different from what the Hornsdale Reserve has already been doing?

  17. Anon 9 months ago

    Synthetic inertia on the NEM has already been done.
    ARENA Large-Scale Battery Storage Knowledge Sharing Report Sept 2019:

    The ESCRI-SA project is the first Large Scale Battery System project in Australia to operate in voltage source mode as a virtual synchronous generator while grid connected (this capability is sometimes known as grid-forming). Benefits provided through this operating mode as compared to traditional current source inverters are:

    – simulated inertia and improved voltage stability through the very fast response capability of voltage source inverters

    – system strength through provision of fault current. Current source inverters can become unstable during disturbances. Voltage source inverters, such as those installed for the ESCRI-SA project, do not suffer such instabilities during disturbance events, which can enable their fault current contribution to be recognised as contributing to system strength.

    Even a RenewEconomy article states it has been done. (https://reneweconomy.com.au/south-australias-other-big-battery-is-earning-money-and-keeping-the-lights-on-28716/)

    Please update article. Great project, but inaccurate claims.

  18. Peter Farley 9 months ago

    With renewables already installed or to be commissioned by the end of this year, SA should generate about 9.5 TWh next year from renewables out of a net 13.8 TWh demand. According to the Clean Energy Council’s database which doesn’t include the proposed Iberdrola plant there is 1,330 MW of solar and about 500 MW of wind to come on line in SA. If it continues to add 200 MW/y of behind the meter and only completes 500 MW of new wind and 800 MW of new tracking solar over the next two years, that will generate 4,300 GWh per year putting SA well over 100% net renewables by the end of 2021. Even if 10% of all renewable output is constrained it will still be net 100% by about mid to late 2022.

    At the moment the minimum allowable gas generation seems to be around 200 MW and that is generally steam powered, probably to ensure that it can ramp up relatively quickly when required which steam can’t do if it is cold, and also to provide much more inertia than gas turbines can. With new batteries and syncons coming on line over the next year to provide FCAS/Inertia and Barker Inlet providing the”just in case” fast ramping capability, it is quite possible that by late next year SA will be able to run with near zero gas for many hours at a time. If it does build one or two of the proposed pumped hydro plants and completes all the projects on the CEC database, it will run on zero gas most of the time and still export 10-15% of annual generation by about 2022/23.

    Coupled with a strong local demand response program and treating exports as the swing factor, it will only import for a few hundred hours per year and probably less than 1% of annual demand. If it is not importing much, the current interconnectors can probably handle about 2.5-3.5 TWh of annual exports, but who will want them.
    My belief is that unless someone very bravely funds the Riverlink project, exports will not increase much above that, because Victoria is adding about 13 TWh of new generation over the next 2-3 years and Tasmania’s net imports will swing around by about 1 TWh so Victoria will be awash with power.

    So if all the proposed plants are built SA will have to find demand from new industries for about 4-5 TWh of spare electricity per year by 2023. That is enough to produce about 5m tonnes per year of steel or nearly enough to run Portland smelter

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