Tesla Big Battery Getting Bigger

November 19, 2019


MELBOURNE, Australia—The world’s largest battery is about to get even bigger, with Tesla Inc. (TSLA) set to boost the capacity of its southern Australia lithium-ion operation by 50% to provide additional stability to the power grid. 

Neoen SA (NEOEN.SA), the French company that owns and operates the 100 megawatt-129 megawatt hour lithium-ion installation known as the Tesla Big Battery, said Tuesday the 71 million Australian dollar (US$48 million) project will create Australia’s first grid-scale battery. 

The Hornsdale Power Reserve in Jamestown, north of Adelaide, was built by the Silicon Valley auto maker in less than nine months in 2017 after Chief Executive Elon Musk offered to help the government of South Australia state bolster a vulnerable power network hit by a string of blackouts. Tesla’s system stores power generated by a wind farm built by Neoen. 

Battery storage has become a critical bridge for Australia’s power network as aging coal-fired plants are increasingly shut down. Power generated by wind and solar farms need a backup for intermittent supply, and recent decreases in battery prices have made them an alternative to plants that only run during peak hours. 

South Australia Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the battery’s expanded capacity will reduce volatility in spot electricity prices and protect the state grid from network disruptions. 

In its first year of operation the battery saved consumers more than A$50 million, Neoen said, adding that the expansion—due to be completed in the first half of next year—will increase savings. 

When the additional Tesla battery packs are installed at the site, the operation will provide a large-scale demonstration of the potential for battery storage to provide inertia to a network, stabilizing the grid when electricity supply and demand fluctuate, the French company said. 

The battery technology will trial responding to supply shifts by automatically charging and discharging, imitating existing services in current fossil-fuel power systems. 

The project will receive A$15 million over five years from the state government’s Grid Scale Storage Fund, becoming the first development to receive money from the fund that was set up a year ago. The federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency has committed A$8 million in grant funding, while government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corp. will provide debt financing, Neoen said.

One Response to “Tesla Big Battery Getting Bigger”

  1. redskylite Says:

    Those batteries are becoming critical as catastrophic fire conditions cause power to be cut – hope the batteries can handle extreme temperatures.

    Electricity shut off in parts of SA in heatwave
    Power utility SA Power Networks cut electricity supply to the town of Port Lincoln and surrounds on Wednesday as temperatures soared towards 45 degrees (Celsius).

    Temperatures in the Adelaide CBD had reached 41.6 degrees at 4.21pm on Wednesday and were as high as 44.5 degrees in the outer northern suburb of Edinburgh. Ceduna on the west coast of SA hit 46 degrees.

    The town of Port Lincoln was without electricity for three days in late 2016 during the infamous state-wide power blackout in South Australia and was the hardest hit of any residential area in the state. That blackout crippled business in the town.

    The blackout prompted a big overhaul of the state’s electricity grid under a $550 million plan in early 2017 by then premier Jay Weatherill. The plan included the installation of the world’s biggest storage battery built by French group Neoen and Elon Musk’s Tesla near Jamestown, in the state’s mid-north.

    That battery, which was up and running by late 2017, is now being expanded by 50 per cent, with an announcement this week that extra grunt was being installed in a $71 million project.

    Known as the Tesla Big Battery, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery can currently store 129 megawatt hours of energy and has the capacity to offer 100 megawatts of power to the grid.

    Once the extra Tesla battery packs are installed in early 2020, that will increase by 50 per cent, to 150MW and 193.5MWh.

    It will make it the first battery in Australia to provide “inertia” to the power grid. Traditionally, inertia was provided through spinning turbines in large coal-fired power stations that would help stabilise the grid.


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