Tesla’s upgraded big battery at Hornsdale exhibits record performance in final tests

Tesla's 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system in Jamestown, Australia. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s big battery in South Australia, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, recently hit another milestone as it entered the final testing phase of its recent expansion. With such performance, it appears that Tesla’s Powerpack farm, currently one of the world’s largest battery installations, will still be providing the region with industry-leading renewable services for the foreseeable future. 

The Hornsdale Power Reserve has been impressive from the time it was installed. Constructed in about 100 days partly due to a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, the massive 100MW/129MWh battery installation promptly played a key part in providing frequency control and emergency back-up energy services to South Australia’s grid. 

The battery farm’s performance has been so impressive that it was expanded to a capacity of 150MW/194MWh. With this expansion comes new services like synthetic inertia, a function that has long been dominated by fossil fuel-powered generators. Currently, the expanded battery installation is going through testing that allows the system to progress through a number of “hold points.” And so far, recent observations indicate that the upgraded battery is poised to be even more disruptive once it’s fully operational. 

During its tests on Tuesday, for example, the upgraded Hornsdale battery performed a rapid 270MW flip by charging at 120MW and discharging at 150MW. As noted in a Renew Economy report, the battery installation appears to have performed the flip on several different occasions, and at least one of them had an impact on the wholesale price of electricity in the area. During one such flip, the expanded Tesla Powerpack farm pushed down power prices to just above AU$8 per MW. 

“Those 270MW flips – from the level of discharge to the level of charge – are likely a world record in both speed and extent of the change. And it’s this flexibility of the big batteries such as Hornsdale, and others at Dalrymple North, Lake Bonney, Gannawarra and Ballarat, that is particularly attractive to project owners and valuable to AEMO, the market operator,” the Australian publication noted. 

The Australian Energy Market Operator has lauded the Hornsdale big battery on several occasions for its speed, accuracy, and flexibility. Its undeniable breakthroughs in the energy sector have inspired what could very well be described as a battery storage movement in Australia. Apart from the expansion of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, Neoen Australia is also expected to construct a massive 600MW/1200MWh system in Victoria. The Victoria project will dwarf even the upgraded Hornsdale battery when it is completed, and it is poised to utilize Tesla Energy’s flagship energy storage product, the Megapack. 

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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