Australian transmission operator Transgrid has announced that it will install a 250 kilowatt, 500 kilowatt hour Powerpack installation in New South Wales to better manageme fluctuating energy demand and prevent blackouts.
Transgrid operates the high voltage electricity transmission backbone for NSW and the ACT which connects the generators, distributors and large scale consumers of power. It is looking to energy storage as a means to smooth power spikes caused by renewables like solar which at the grid level, creates a spike in generation at midday that does not always correspond to usage. Unlike fossil fuel fired generation which can be throttled up or down as needed, solar systems generate electricity when the sun is shining and when it is gone, it’s gone.
Tesla commercial battery storage system will provide the local depot with energy savings by storing lower cost power during the day and returning it back to consumers during times of peak demand. Demand Response installations such as this eliminate the need for natural gas fired peaker plants which similarly stand at the ready to respond to increases in demand. Though these plants do not operate continuously, they generate a disproportionately high amount of pollution for the short periods they operate. Storing low cost power when demand is low and metering it out during a spike has the potential to save operators and / or customers the incremental cost of these demand surcharges. Battery installations are also not exposed to commodity risk in the event of a spike in the price of natural gas or coal which makes the cost benefit analysis appear that much more attractive.
Storage at the facility level has similar benefits with a Powerpack installation having the ability to absorb excess solar power generated during the day and metering that power out over the evening and night. Keeping the power generated on site can mean the difference between a solar installation being cost effective or not, depending on the net metering policy of the utility.
Tesla won a contract with Transgrid to provide its Powerpacks to several sites last year of which this is the first. Transgrid is using the installation to explore the potential of grid scale batteries on its network before adding more.
In March, Tesla CEO Elon Musk threw down the gauntlet with an Australian billionaire on Twitter, guaranteeing that Tesla could restore stability to Australia’s regional grids with several hundred megawatts of Powerpacks in just 100 days or Tesla would install the system for free. This pilot installation could be the crack in the floodgates, as Australia’s unstable grid and high electricity prices prove to be fertile ground for grid scale batteries.
Source: AFR (paywall)