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.
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.