Tesla’s bigger, smarter battery earns high praise from Australian energy minister

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

Tesla’s big battery in South Australia may not have been able to maintain its crown as the world’s biggest energy storage installation with its 50% upgrade to a 150MW/194MWh system, but the Powerpack farm has received a notable amount of praise from a key government official nonetheless. In a recent statement, South Australia energy minister Dan Van Holst Pellekaan stated that the upgraded Tesla battery could be a crucial part of the state’s efforts to avoid large-scale blackouts. 

Tesla’s big battery, officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has already provided a notable amount of benefits to South Australia. Since it was deployed as a 100MW/129MWh system, the battery farm has helped the grid’s stability while helping residents save money on their power bills. With its 50% expansion, the South Australia energy minister noted that that the installation could serve as an even better “shock absorber” for the grid. 

“Batteries can suck massive amounts of electricity out of the grid within milliseconds and they can pump massive amounts of electricity back into the grid within milliseconds. That shock absorber-type capacity is what helps us to stop a blackout that would otherwise occur,” Mr. Pellekaan said in a statement to ABC News.

The expansion of the Hornsdale Power Reserve was delivered by French renewables company Neoen in collaboration with Tesla and the South Australian and Commonwealth governments. According to Neoen managing director Louis de Sambucy, the larger size of the battery installation should allow the Powerpack farm to offer additional services such as synthetic inertia, a function that has long been dominated by fossil fuel-powered generators. 

“What’s great about this expansion is it’s making the battery bigger and smarter. We will be providing a number of grid-stabilizing services, to keep the voltage and frequency very stable,” de Sambucy stated. 

Similar to its early days, the upgraded Tesla Powerpack farm was already helping the grid even before it was officially deployed. During its test periods, for example, the 150MW/194MWh battery performed a rapid 270MW flip by charging at 120MW and discharging at 150MW in a rapid manner. The battery performed this feat multiple times, at one point pushing down power prices in the area to just above AU$8 per MW. 

With the undeniable success of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, Neoen has filed its development application for a mammoth sustainable energy project that could involve a total of 1,200MW of wind energy, 600MW of solar photovoltaic systems, and 900MW/1800MWh of battery storage. The French energy company is yet to announce a battery partner for such this high-profile project, though considering the performance of the Hornsdale Power Reserve and a massive 600MW/1200MWh system in Victoria that will use Tesla’s flagship Megapack batteries, there seems to be a fair chance that the Elon Musk-led firm may be involved in Neoen’s 1.8GWh battery project as well. 

Tesla’s bigger, smarter battery earns high praise from Australian energy minister
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