Tesla Powerpack battery steps in after coal plant explodes in Australia

Tesla big batteries at Hornsdale Power Reserve (Credit: Neoen/Twitter)

On Tuesday, an explosion at the Callide Power Station, a coal-fired power plant in central Queensland, Australia, resulted in mass power outages from the New South Wales (NSW) border to Cairns. More than 470,000 customers were affected, particularly as the explosion caused a cascading impact on the Queensland grid. 

The chaos created a frequency excursion that had to be immediately addressed. This was when the Hornsdale Power Reserve, a massive Tesla Powerpack battery farm, stepped in. With its upgraded toolkit that was added when it was expanded into a 150MW/194MWh system, the massive battery was able to immediately respond to the widespread power interruptions. 

The Hornsdale battery’s new tools, including the capability to provide “synthetic inertia,” allow the battery to help slow down the rate of frequency changes resulting from dramatic events. The explosion at the Callide coal plant qualified as one such event. 

As noted in a Renew Economy report, the Tesla Powerpack farm responded instantaneously as the frequency in the grid plunged to a low of 49.6Hz, before jumping to 50.1Hz as load was lost. The battery accomplished this in but two seconds. But even more impressively, the two inverters of the Hornsdale Power Reserve that had been enabled with “synthetic inertia” features responded even more quickly, reaching peak output in about one-third of a second before the rest of the battery. 

Neoen Head of Development Garth Heron proved optimistic about the Powerpack farm’s performance during Tuesday’s event. “This shows that the virtual inertia mode hopes to catch these things even earlier. This is the future,” he said. 

Monash University’s Dr. Behrooz Bahrani, in a webinar on Thursday, noted that it is now clear that battery storage can provide inertia and system strength. Bahrani also noted that it is time grid operators think beyond old parameters. “We need to go beyond synchronous generators. We need to think what else the batteries can do and not just focus on mimicking synchronous generators,” he said. 

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Tesla Powerpack battery steps in after coal plant explodes in Australia
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