Tesla big battery in South Australia is about to get bigger | RenewEconomy

Tesla big battery in South Australia is about to get bigger

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The world’s biggest lithium ion battery at Hornsdale in South Australia is about to get bigger with hundreds of Tesla batteries reportedly delivered to the site this week.

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The Tesla big battery in South Australia – officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve – is about to get significantly bigger, according to sources and videos floating about on social media.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve is already the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in the world – 100MW/129MWh – and has performed so well in boosting power security and lowering prices that it has changed much of the thinking about the future of the grid.

Video posted on the Youtube channel HyperChange shows two large road trains, each said to be carrying 18 Powerpacks – the Tesla product used in the Hornsdale Power Reserve. It now emerges that the video first appeared on the Twitter feed of a truck driver a week ago.

According to HyperChange, there are 37 such deliveries, indicating that up to 500 Powerpacks may be delivered to the site, adjacent to the Hornsdale wind farm north of Adelaide. The video also shows new site works at Hornsdale, taken from Google Maps, although that doesn’t yet look big enough to accommodate such as array.

Some sources suggested a potential expansion of the Hornsdale Power Reserve of around 50 per cent, or more, depending on the configuration chosen.

Neoen would not comment on the development, and Tesla did not respond to queries.

The mystery is enhanced because there appears to be no visible regulatory application for an expansion to the project, not with the South Australia regulator, not with the state planning department, and not with the Australian Energy Market Operator.

That led some on social media – where Tesla has plenty of critics and skeptics – to speculate whether they were “replacements” for batteries already depleted by the efforts of Hornsdale to date. RenewEconomy understands this is not the case.

The Tesla big battery at Hornsdale has been used in multiple roles – as an emergency back-up for the state government, providing Frequency Control and Ancillary Services, and playing in the spot market by charging at low prices and selling at high prices.

It has significantly reduced costs in the FCAS market by breaking apart an existing gas cartel, helped keep the lights on when a lightning strike caused widespread outages in other parts of the grid, and also generated significant returns for Neoen through its activities.

Its success has led to the deployment of another four big batteries in Victoria and South Australia, with many more planned in different states, with the most recent announcement from AGL agreeing to contract 200MW/400MWh of battery storage in NSW, partly to replace the ageing Liddel coal generator that will be closed in 2023.

Despite this obvious success, the idea that battery technology might be useful remains beyond the federal Coalition government. Prime minister Scott Morrison has absurdly compared it to the Big Banana, resources minister Matt Canavan compares it to the Kardashians, and this week Liberal moderate Jason Falinski claimed the technology “does not exist.”

Tesla founder Elon Musk has predicted that the energy division that includes storage will eventually overtake the electric vehicle division of the company. Tesla also unveiled a new “mega-pack” product that provides 3MWh of storage, but while this is about to be deployed in a couple of projects in California, it is not believed to be planned for Hornsdale.

 

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16 Comments
  1. manicdee 7 months ago

    Well, when the combination of glacial regulation from the market operator and the federal government means you are living on a pile of free lemons, why not set up a commercial lemonade operation?

    By the time the regulators catch up and have some idea of where energy policy is going, the battery operators will have paid off their capital investment. You want me to curtail my wind production? No way, I am making hay while the sun shines, storing it in a barn, then selling to you at a premium in the middle of a drought!

    Watch as the coal lobby tries to get limits on storage capacity imposed.

    • Rod 7 months ago

      I think the way their contract is set up they don’t have enough storage to take advantage of the spreads and negative prices.

      This will be interesting to watch over Summer.

  2. Markus H 7 months ago

    What if half the existing units need replacement under warranty? That would explain the secrecy and the lack of approval.

  3. ReverseConcaveSpoon 7 months ago

    Falinski said the batteries don’t exist? Cripes, now my social media feeds will be full of confused, conservative voting family members posting about how they’re all actually a hoax. Ugh.

  4. Jon Knight 7 months ago

    There’s clearly profit in Bananas.

    • Charles 7 months ago

      There’s always money in the banana stand.

  5. BeanBoy 7 months ago

    As much as I’d welcome this, if true, I’ll be waiting for an authoritative source to make a statement. However, any readers here from the Jamestown region who might have seen increased activity?

    • yahoo2 7 months ago

      About all we really know is they were shipped in and a few days ago they were on the road probably heading north.

      I didn’t hear Gali explicitly say his source confirmed they were for Hornsdale, so in my mind its speculation.
      Still, we know 90MWh of storage is going somewhere, probably in the mid North/ upper Spencer Gulf area.

    • Rod 7 months ago

      A video and comment on the NEM facebook page of foundation works at the site.

  6. George Michaelson 7 months ago

    They contracted for FCAS. But they sell power for profit. So presumably, they have a rating to supply power, and its not duration-limited under regulation beyond any other source of power and may well be (currently) unable to continue to supply power, at a price, for periods which would earn them good money: They know their profitability, and they know their ROI.

    So putting replacement of worn parts to one side (which btw I would expect NEOEN and Tesla to need to declare to the share market) this feels like a capex for good intent: make money with the thing they know works.

  7. Jon 7 months ago

    The “new work area” they are describing on Google Earth is obviously a dam.

  8. Ren Stimpy 7 months ago

    Looks like the new batteries brought the rain with them. Quick, drive those trucks through country NSW and Queensland!

  9. Ian 7 months ago

    The thing about batteries is that they are very scalable, and can be plug and play. New capacity can be added very easily and could probably be redeployed just as easily to some other site.

  10. Hettie 7 months ago

    Given the proven value of HPR, its FCAS capabilities, stunning ROI, and the continuing fall in battery cost, not to mention the speed with which batteries an be commissioned, is it possible that batteries will become the preferred firming technology, leaving PHES behind?

    With a modernised network, with 21st C regulations, now that Pierce is coming up for retirement, widespread big batteries, and a H2 production industry, and Oz could become the powerhouse of the world, could it not?

  11. Alan Wilson 7 months ago

    They look good … there going some where maybe a mine site or another solar or wind site … l sure soon someone will bring in the tesla mega packs … if NSW can have a big battery 200Mw then Vic and QLD should get one too … bigger batterys more of them … more RE then we can stick the coal up the LNP …

  12. NickE 7 months ago

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