Tesla big battery – world’s biggest – charges up for first time

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World’s biggest battery charges up for first time as testing begins ahead of its formal commissioning next week.

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The first step of a brand new world in Australia’s electricity grid occurred on Friday when the Tesla big battery in South Australia charged up for the first time as it began a series of tests ahead of the start of formal operations next week.

The 100MW/129MWh battery will be the largest lithium ion battery storage plant in the world and is being built next to the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown in South Australia.

HPRL1 copy

Installation of the Tesla Powerpacks is complete, as we reported earlier this week, and final testing and commissioning is now taking place ahead of its contracted opening by December 1.

This glimpse of charging operation was captured by Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne. RenewEconomy’s popular NEM-Watch widget will soon be updated with battery storage.

The graph appears to show that 0.2MW and up to 0.3MW was charged at various points on Friday morning. As we explain here, the battery will be used for two different functions, the main one being to provide grid support services – contracted by the South Ausdtralian government – in case of major faults.

This is designed to help avoid the sort of catastrophic blackouts that occurred last year when a series of tornadoes tore down three major transmission lines and destroyed 26 towers.

The battery will also provide more conventional charging and discharging for Neoen – the owner of the adjoining Hornsdale wind farm – to allow it to play the wholesale market (charging at low prices, discharging at high prices), helping to meet demand peaks, and may be to balance the wind output.

The Tesla big battery may be the biggest in the world, and the first to be performing such a function in Australia, but it is not likely to be alone for long and will likely be quickly surpassed by a range of other proposed projects.

Included in this is the Lakeland solar and storage project in north Queensland, the Wattle Point wind farm battery project in South Australia, the Whyalla steelworks battery and large scale solar project, and numerous others. Almost every new wind and solar farm declares itself to be “battery ready.”

The formal opening is due to be held next week. It is understood that Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk will not be attending. Musk is busy finishing his electric truck and sorting out production issues for the Model 3 EV.



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  1. Joe 2 years ago

    A shame that the Elon can’t make it for the event. Perhaps ‘Big Banana’, ‘Big Prawn’, and anything ‘Big’ fanboy Scotty Morrison can attend and bring along his ‘Big Lump of Coal’ to show SA where the future really is? Scotty will find a way to plug a ‘Big Coaler into the Elon’s Big Battery.

    • Michael Murray 2 years ago

      Mal could wear this leather jacket. Time for the man from snowy river to come down and lend a hand.

      • Tom 2 years ago

        LOL – that was Clancy of the Overflow that came down to lend a hand.

        • Michael Murray 2 years ago

          Damn. I should never post after Friday evening drinks. But you are right “No better horseman ever held the reins” doesn’t sounds like our PM does it!

  2. solarguy 2 years ago

    A great moment in our history is a coming. Can’t wait. Go you good state SA!

  3. Tom 2 years ago

    I can’t wait to see what happens to the SA FCAS market over the coming months. Please keep us updated on this Giles.

  4. JWW 2 years ago

    Agreed, this is great news. I really hope the commissioning and testing goes smooth, and that SA makes it through the summer without outages. Then Jay Weatherill can give his coal-brained opponents the middle finger, figuratively speaking. I am looking forward to that.

    • Steve159 2 years ago

      Well we might still see the same sort of shenanigans that kept that gas peaker switched off, causing a blackout.

      • JWW 2 years ago

        True, but from what I read on this website it seems the two new gas turbines are operational now as well. That will make it harder gaming the system.

  5. Rod 2 years ago

    SA, like other Southern States, has just had a mini heatwave. Our maximum demand was around 2200MW so even though some say this is a small battery, it will make a big difference.
    I will be keeping an eye on it, when it appears in the widget, and the difference it makes to our demand profile and spot price.
    We may have seen the end of negative spot prices and record low demand, at least until our latest batch of wind and large solar comes on line.

    • Charles 2 years ago

      I assume you mean the NEM Watch widget? I’m interested to see how the data from the battery will be displayed there! Will it just appear as wind generation (since it is connected to the Hornsdale farm) or a different colour? When it is charging from the grid will it appear as a bar to the left of the “0” mark as a “special” type of load? I asked these questions via email months ago but didn’t get a response!

      • Michael Murray 2 years ago

        I think I heard Giles saying on a recent podcast that the NEM Watch widget would be updated to accomodate the battery. But he didn’t say how.

        • Paul McArdle 2 years ago

          Rod, Charles and Michael (and others)
          You can see more about how the widget is being updated here:

          • Michael Murray 2 years ago

            Thanks Paul. Unfortunately that link doesn’t find an article.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            Thanks Paul looks good. Nice solution to include demand which gives a good idea of interconnector flows.
            Anyone using adblockers may need to disable them on the updated widget.
            Also cookies. Firefox needed to accept cookies from ALL
            Chrome came up with a message re adblock.

      • Rod 2 years ago


        You may have to turn adblockers off and accept all cookies

    • Andrew Roydhouse 2 years ago

      If we were in a world where people and companies did not collude then you would be correct.

      IF the generators play the same games as they have been playing (and watched how the Qld State-owned generators ripped off Qld consumers by over $170m in one 5 month period alone) – then the battery can be sidelined.

      As the battery needs to recharge at low prices – then the generators can game the system to get the battery to use up its available (non-SA Govt contracted component) charge. Once its used up – then they can rort through until the next time wind power pushes the price negative (or even down to $40/MWh).

      It will be a game of ‘cat and mouse’ until a couple more battery look-alikes appear on the scene.

      Then competition will well and truly be underway.

      • Rod 2 years ago

        Agreed 30MW will soon be depleted and the other generators will take advantage. We have 2 smaller batteries in the works. Interesting times

      • BushAxe 2 years ago

        Agree that HPR won’t make a significant impact on spot prices but it will take away the stranglehold the generators have on FCAS. It’s obviously a tool for Neoen to experiment with to prove the case for arbitrage. There’s another 140MW/118MWhr of batteries to be installed next year and there’s little doubt that there will be more to come. SA is a small enough market that battery storage will make a significant impact, they will definitely take a big chunk of the peaking market.

  6. Webber Depor 2 years ago

    batteries are not the solution, -ems-Energy management systems and a modern grid are

    • Darren 2 years ago

      uh, a modern grid is distributed and decentralized. Batteries are a key part of that modern grid.

  7. old44 2 years ago

    Any mention yet of the total cost of this facility?

  8. trackdaze 2 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be great if they simply moved to the next site and repeat the process. 2 or 3 in each state would do wonders.

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